- What does it do: detects presence of an infection
- Not a blood test: In a patient with a COVID-19 infection, genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is generally detectable in upper and lower respiratory specimens. Upper and lower respiratory specimens: are Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab/oropharyngeal (OP) swab, Nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal aspirate (NA), Nasal middle-turbinate (NMT) swab, also called Deep Nasal Swab, Anterior nares specimen (NS), Bronchoalveolar lavage, tracheal aspirate, pleural fluid, lung biopsy or sputum. In office testing is most commonly done by nasopharyngeal swab
- Where is it done: an office, hospital or at home
- Time to detect: 5 – 45 minutes depending on type of manufacturer of test used
What does it test: genetic material from a sample is copied and then compared to the genetic sequence of the virus you’re trying to detect via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, (RT-PCR). In acute respiratory infections, molecular tests are routinely used to detect the presence of viral genetic material in a sample.
- Accuracy: Close to 100%. Since molecular tests detect the presence of viral genetic material, a positive resultindicates an active COVID-19 infection but does not rule out bacterial infections or co-infections with other viruses.
- FDA: not approved for COVID-19, but by emergency declaration was made available. Pending approval.
What is a Serological test?
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Information for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
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