There are many people who are wondering about the differences between the COVID-19 tests.

As cases of the COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.5 continue to increase across the United States, many people who have either been exposed or have symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are taking tests to see whether they are positive.

There are several testing options available.

It can be difficult to know when and how to take the COVID-19 test.

We’ve partnered with Cue Health, a healthcare company that makes lab-quality, portable diagnostic tests for at-home and professional use, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing.

There are three Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 tests in the United States:

  • rapid antigen tests, such as at-home tests
  • The tests are called polymerase chain reaction tests.
  • serology tests include the use of an immune system

“If you have a rapid antigen and a rapid molecular test, you may have a disease. You can take these tests at home, in your doctor’s office, at a testing site, or in a laboratory.”

Cue Health portable testing system

Cue Health’s portable testing system offers a PCR-quality COVID-19 test for at-home and on-the-go use and provides results in 20 minutes. The molecular self-testing device offers accurate COVID-19 testing. Customers also get access to 24/7 virtual care with the Cue+™ membership.

According to a May 2021 review, at least one-third of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, with almost 75% of people with a positive PCR test remaining asymptomatic for the duration of the illness.

Diagnostic tests are recommended if you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. This is true for people who have come into close contact with a confirmed case.

An antibody or serology test is a blood test that checks whether you’ve been exposed to or have developed immunity to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends serology tests approximately 1 to 3 weeks after a suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The main diagnostic tests for a SARS-CoV-2 infection are the genes and the antigen. Both tests can detect active infections, but they work differently.

In a clinical setting, saliva samples, throat swabs, and nasal or throat tests are used for the testing of genes. It takes about a day to get the results of a test.

The smaller amount of COVID-19 genetic material in your sample can be detected by the PCR tests. A positive test result is indicative of the presence of the virus.

The COVID-19 virus has specific genes that can be detected by rapid tests.

While antigen tests are an option at most laboratories or community-based testing sites, they’re also available as at-home kits. These nasal swab kits can provide rapid results in about 15 to 30 minutes.

An antibody test is used to check for the presence of antibodies. Antibodies show an immune response to an infectious disease. The tests can not detect active infections. If you have, they are helpful.

  • Someone with COVID-19 has been exposed to it in the last 14 days.
  • I had an infectious disease.
  • They were unable to take a test for COVID-19.

They can also detect if you have had a previous infections.

The rapid antigen test is quick and convenient, but it is not always the most accurate.

Timing is important when taking a rapid COVID-19 test.

If you are not showing symptoms after exposure, the CDC recommends testing. The 5-day timing allows your body to develop a high viral load that can be detected by rapid antigen tests.

In April, a study published in JAMA found that symptomatic individuals with an initial negative at-home test tested positive 1 to 2 days later when their viral load increased.

The high incidence of false-negative results is important to note. If you have a low viral load, you can have an active case of the disease, but not have a negative test.

This is why experts recommend following up on negative tests with a test like the PCR.

“A rapid COVID-19 test can detect the virus at much higher levels than a PCR test can, so it’s more accurate.”

If you take a test too early, you can get a false negative. There may not be enough viral genetic material in your sample to detect an active case of the disease.

If you use the tests to determine the end of yourQuarantine period, you should not use them for detecting active infections.

Most people are no longer contagious 10 days after the start of symptoms. Some people may be positive for weeks or more after they recover from the disease, because the tests can pick up tiny fragments of the virus.

If you have a blood test that shows IgM, IgA, and IgG, you can determine if you have COVID-19. The presence of these antibodies is indicative of you.

  • The person has been exposed to a disease.
  • The immunity against the COVID-19 virus was built up.

If you have had a past exposure to the virus, you can take a test to see if it is active.

If you have completed the CDC guidelines for sequestration, an sequestration test is more accurate in helping you decide whether to end or continue your isolation.

It is possible to get test results at home with newer testing methods.

If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, you should talk to a doctor immediately.

In addition to providing advice on monitoring and evaluating your symptoms, a doctor can help determine which COVID-19 test is right for you.

Knowing the differences between the types of COVID-19 tests can help you choose the best one for your situation.

The rapid at- home tests are convenient and affordable.

Though it takes time to process, tests like the one for the coronaviruses are more accurate at detecting active infections.

If you suspect you have had an infectious disease, an anti-biomarker test can help determine if you have been exposed to COVID-19.

Regular testing is one of the key ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. To find COVID-19 testing near you, visit your state’s health department website or the Department of Health and Human Services to find a comprehensive list of community-based testing sites.