What does a PCR test tell you?

Covid-19 – What is a PCR and a rapid test?

These tests are based on a paper-based immunochromatography, i.e. a platform that has the virus proteins “glued” to it to detect antibodies or specific antibodies to discover the virus proteins. Its operation is similar to that of pregnancy tests.

Its rapidity is of great help at this time, as it has a great advantage in the current situation: it can be performed at the home of a suspected case. Although it must always be under the supervision of a healthcare professional, it helps to avoid overcrowding hospitals.

Thanks to these rapid tools, it will be possible to improve screening in the population and limit PCR assays to only those patients who, with symptomatology, give a negative result by rapid tests. This will free up professionals and resources in the National Health System.


PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are a rapid and highly accurate way to diagnose certain infectious diseases and genetic changes. The tests detect DNA or RNA from a pathogen (the organism causing a disease) or abnormal cells in a sample.

PCR and rtPCR tests detect the presence of a pathogen. Another type of PCR test known as quantitative PCR (qPCR) measures the amount of pathogens in the sample. The qPCR can be done at the same time as PCR or rtPCR.

Nasal swabbing involves taking a sample from the front of the nostrils (anterior nares). The sample may also be taken from the back of the nostrils in a procedure known as a middle turbinate swab (NMT), or from the nasopharynx, the uppermost part of the nose and throat. Sometimes, your doctor may ask you to do the nasal or middle turbinate swab yourself.

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PCR tests are an accurate and reliable method of identifying many infectious diseases. And because they can diagnose them before symptoms of an infection appear, PCR tests play a crucial role in preventing the spread of disease.

PCR and Rapid Tests: How They Work and What They Are

Many tests, including some where only the sample is collected at home and those that are performed entirely at home, require a prescription or an order from a health care provider.

Over-the-counter tests – Some tests are available without a prescription. Tests that are only collected at home and those that are performed entirely at home and are available without a prescription may be referred to as “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) or “over-the-counter” (OTC). DTC and OTC tests may be available for purchase at a pharmacy or online, but they may not be available everywhere.

Why is this important? These differences determine where the sample is collected, where the test is processed, and how quickly the results are known. While home testing may be the fastest and most convenient option, it may not be the most appropriate for all situations.

If you are sick, you should stay home and isolate yourself from others, even if the test result is negative. Talk to your health care provider to determine if you should be retested or for advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Coronavirus: Rapid tests and PCR What is the difference?

3Serological testA blood test is performed to detect antibodies to the virus. If the result is positive, it means that the sample contains immunoglobulins that specifically recognize the virus and therefore it can be confirmed that the person has been in contact with it. Depending on which type of immunoglobulin is detected, it can be suspected that the infection was very recent (IgM positive) or if, on the contrary, it is a more mature response and therefore more distant/past/less recent (IgG positive). However, a negative result does not presuppose that there has been no contact with the virus since the levels of these antibodies may be so low that they are not detected, regardless of whether or not symptomatology has been present.This detection is performed in the laboratory and the result may take hours or days.

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4Rapid antibody testThe so-called rapid antibody diagnostic tests allow to know in 10-15 minutes whether a person has antibodies or not. They detect the same as serological tests, but with less sensitivity. Unlike serological tests in which a tube of blood is needed, in these rapid tests only a drop of blood from the finger is needed.  They must always be supervised by a health professional.  Loading…