What Is a PCR Test?

what is a pcr test
Dec 16, 2020
Last updated on Sep 14, 2023
3 mins read
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If you are on this blog post, you are wondering “what is a PCR test?” As a reminder, America Homecare is now offering COVID-19 tests via drive-thru, group/corporate, or at-home testing.

PCR stands for a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction. It is also called a molecular test. The test detects genetic material of the virus. A fluid sample is gathered by a long nasal swab (nasopharyngeal swab) and taking another sample from the back of your nose with a shorter swab (mid-turbinate swab).

In some cases, a long swab is inserted into the back of your throat (oropharyngeal swab), or you may spit into a tube to produce a saliva sample. Results may be available in minutes if analyzed onsite or a few days. This may be longer in locations with test processing delays or if sent to an outside lab. PCR tests are very accurate when properly performed by a health care professional, but the rapid test can miss some cases.

There is also a special PCR test called Flu SC2 Multiplex Assay. This test can detect any of three viruses at the same time: coronavirus (COVID-19), influenza A, and influenza B (flu).

The other kind of COVID-19 test is called antigen.

This test detects certain proteins in the virus. It uses a long nasal swab to get a sample. Some tests can provide results in minutes. Other cases may be sent to a lab. A positive antigen test is considered accurate when followed carefully, but there is an increased chance of false-negatives. False negative means getting a negative result when you are infected with the virus.

Depending on the situation, the doctor may recommend a PCR test to confirm a negative antigen test result.

Why PCR Tests Are Done

A COVID-19 diagnostic test is needed if:

  • You have coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, tiredness, or shortness of breath.
  • You don’t have symptoms but have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone who tested positive or is suspected of having the virus.
  • You’ve participated in activities that increase your risk of and did not stay at least 6 feet away from others (ex: travel, large gatherings, or crowded indoor settings).
  • Your doctor or other health care professional or your public health department recommends a test.

Certain groups are considered high priority for diagnostic testing. These include people with COVID-19 signs and symptoms who:

  • Work in a health care facility or as first responders
  • Live or work in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, or other places where people are housed closely together, such as prisons or shelters
  • Are being cared for in a hospital

Other people may be given priority for testing depending on local health department guidelines for monitoring COVID-19 in individual communities.

Some people who are infected with coronavirus may be asymptomatic. This means they don’t have any signs or symptoms but can still spread the virus.

In some areas of the U.S., testing is available to asymptomatic people. If asymptomatic people test positive, they should follow guidelines for self-isolation to help curb the spread of the virus.

The availability of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and where to get tested may vary depending on where you live and the recommendations of your local public health officials. Also, be aware of any non-FDA approved take-home testing kits because they are often inaccurate.

America Homecare Inc has been a leader in providing CDPAP to Western New York. We are one of the highest paying and top-rated CDPAP FI Providers in New York State.

To better serve our community and home caregivers, we are offering PCR Lab tests for COVID-19. You can call us at our main office line at 716-288-9300 or visit our online appointment link here. Stay safe and remember your mask!

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