What Types of Covid Tests Are There?
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After months of shortages throughout 2020, it was a relief when Covid-19 tests became widely available to the general public in 2021. Now, we have multiple types of Covid tests available to keep people informed and prevent the spread of infection. What types of Covid tests are there, you might wonder, and how do they compare? Right now, two different types of Covid test are widely available to the public. Below, we’ll look through the pros and cons of the major types of Covid test, as well as how businesses and institutions can find an affordable price on antigen Covid tests in bulk.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Tests
PCR tests are the most sensitive Covid-19 tests available, and the type most commonly administered at doctor’s offices and hospitals. A PCR test allows a trained professional to detect the presence of viral RNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus using a molecule that replicates and amplifies viral RNA.
Medical professionals administer a PCR test by collecting a sample from a patient, such as a nasal or throat swab, and testing it with a reagent. Some testing facilities send these samples to a lab for analysis, while others analyze them in-house for rapid results. PCR tests have an extremely high sensitivity — so high, in fact, that they sometimes detect tiny fragments of RNA in people who are no longer sick or infectious.
The biggest downside of PCR tests is that they’re relatively expensive and require special training to administer correctly. It’s also not always possible to get rapid results using a PCR, depending on which testing options someone has access to. If you need results quickly or the ability to test at home or work, rapid antigen tests are a better option.
Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Tests
Rather than looking for the viral RNA itself, antigen tests detect surface proteins and other viral by-products using a process called lateral flow immunoassay. These tests allow anyone to test an oral or nasal swab sample using a disposable cartridge. Most rapid Covid-19 test kits available for home and office use, including the popular Abbott BinaxNOW™ Covid test, are antigen tests.
Although antigen tests do have a lower sensitivity than PCR tests, they’re still generally effective at detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection. The CDC says these tests are especially good at detecting infection at the point when a person is most contagious — which is exactly when it’s most important. The Abbott BinaxNow™ home Covid test kit, for example, has a sensitivity of 84.6% when administered according to the instructions, and each kit includes two test cartridges to confirm a result. These tests have other substantial advantages that make them popular for home and workplace testing:
- Simple enough for most people to self-test without help
- Results available in just 15 minutes for most tests
- Available with a digital health pass for travel and events
- Cost-effective and available in bulk from iPromo
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There’s a third type of Covid test that’s worth discussing to avoid confusion. A serology test, also known as an antibody test, is designed to detect whether a person has ever been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the past. These tests are not used for detecting active coronavirus infection and shouldn’t be confused with antigen tests — “antigen” and “antibody” are actually opposite terms.
Serology tests work by detecting the long-term antibodies that a person’s immune system creates to defend against the coronavirus, which take time to build up. Serology testing is an important tool for professionals who track the spread of the virus, but these tests shouldn’t be used in place of a rapid antigen or PCR test for detecting current infections.
What Types of Covid Tests Are Available from iPromo?
Every business has the responsibility to reduce Covid-19 risks associated with its operation. For many organizations, that makes it a must to keep a stock of rapid Covid-19 antigen test kits on hand for on-site, on-demand testing.
iPromo offers several models of rapid test kits that are easy to self-administer at home or work, including Abbott BinaxNow™ Covid test kits. For our customers with in-house, professionally administered testing programs, we offer point of care Covid tests with even better sensitivity than home tests.
iPromo is your one-stop source for rapid Covid tests and PPE for your workplace. We offer customized orders and quick turnarounds with fast shipping anywhere in the U.S. Browse our full selection of Covid-19 rapid test kits now, or shop for other crucial workplace hygiene supplies like hand sanitizer in bulk.