We offer three of the most common rapid covid tests, with printed or digital results back to you by the end of day or sooner.
I need to get COVID testing, but which one should I get?
As we are opening society again, we are making plans to travel, go to summer camps, visit grandparents, go to theme parks, weddings or sporting events. Some or all of these events may require testing to prove that you do not have COVID. Many are requiring that testing be performed within a set time from the event, such as within 48 or 72 hrs of the event. The challenge is two-fold: finding out which test is required by the event and getting rapid COVID testing within the time frame that is asked.
Here is a quick guide on how to use the available testing.
Antigens are substances that are released by our body when we are infected with the virus or bacteria. When we are sick with illnesses, such as strep throat, influenza or COVID-19, we release these substances. Although antigens themselves may not be what actually transmits infection, their levels rise and fall with the level of virus in the body, so it makes a good identifier of when you are infected and contagious and subsequently when you are no longer contagious. The problem with looking for antigens is that it may not be identifiable early on in the infection; it may only be present well into the time that someone might already be contagious. However, it is helpful in determining if your current symptoms are due to COVID. That means if you have symptoms and the test is negative, it is unlikely that you have COVID.
Often referred to as nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), these tests look for the genetic material of the specific virus or bacteria (whichever you are looking for) and when it finds it, it goes through 20-40 replications of that material to amplify it to the point where it can be detected. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) was the first in this family of testing. It has been around since the 1980s, and only recently have we seen commercialization of more NAAT tests, with the majority of test coming to the market since COVID. Since PCR is the original and most consistent result, all other NAAT testing is compared to it. Since PCR has been around longer, it is often what is cited as the preferred testing in policies that were developed shortly after the pandemic started. The tests in this family include PCR (which cycles through 20-40 hot/cold cycles during its replication), and other techniques which use a constant heat/temperature during multiplication such as:
• Nicking endonuclease amplification reaction (NEAR)
• Transcription mediated amplification (TMA)
• Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP)
• Helicase-dependent amplification (HDA)
• Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)
• Strand displacement amplification (SDA)
The advantage to NAAT testing is that they can detect infections early on, sometimes as soon as 4 days after exposure. The disadvantages are cost, time, and more relative false positive tests when there are low rates of COVID in the community.
When our body fights infections it generates antibodies to attack the foreign invaders. These antibodies tag and target the virus or bacteria and tell the immune system what to destroy. After the job is done, some of these antibodies will stay around for a few months and sometimes for a lifetime. If you think you had COVID earlier in the pandemic, this test would be helpful for determining if your body shows any memory of it. It would also be the choice test to see if your body did what it needed to do after getting the vaccine, as you should have developed antibodies. The disadvantages to this rapid test is it will not tell you if you are currently infected, it only gives historical information.
Check with each agency associated with your plans to verify which rapid COVID test would be right for you and their policy. No test is perfect and no policy is perfect. If you feel sick, yet your test is negative, maybe you shouldn’t go. Maybe you have some other infectious illness that you may spread to others if you go.
click to see.
Implications of variants on COVID-19 molecular test detection
Do COVID-19 tests still work against Omicron, Delta, and other variants?
Diagnostics for COVID-19: moving from pandemic response to control
What is a Superbill? A superbill is a document, similar to an itemized receipt but with medical billing codes, that medical offices provide so that you, the patient, can submit a claim to be reimbursed by your insurance for services paid for out-of-pocket.
Click here to learn more about superbills, and find individualized instructions & links to forms from various major insurance providers.