Difference between Rapid Antigen Test and PCR

Difference between Rapid Antigen Test and PCR

We were not prepared for that time, when a virus of unknown origin first appeared in Wuhan, China and in less than two months, attacked more than 150 countries, infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and spread panic and chaos everywhere.

In March 2022, WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic and named the new coronavirus “COVID-19”, which has been wreaking havoc ever since. Yes, we were not ready then, but we are ready now. In the early stages of the epidemic, clinical treatment options and the diagnosis of COVID-19 are rapidly changing and confusing.

Also read: 6 Best Free Corona Virus Monitoring Apps For Windows PC

Today, the medical and scientific ties have come to understand that the accumulation of data, understanding of COVID-19, and the importance of reliable testing to contain the spread of the virus are becoming increasingly clear.

What is the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test?

Difference between Rapid Test Antigen and PCR-1

Rapid Antigen Test, commonly called a rapid test, is a type of diagnostic test that detects the presence of protein segments or antigens for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Typically used for the diagnosis of respiratory disease, the rapid test looks for a protein specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus disease.

Rapid antigen test is a portable diagnostic tool that can be operated directly by doctors or even patients themselves. Recent advances in clinical virology such as rapid antigen testing have made it easier to diagnose infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, in clinical settings with shorter turnaround times.

Antigen tests are relatively economical than molecular techniques but are often less sensitive. It is used to determine whether a person has an active or previous COVID-19 infection based on a nasopharyngeal swab specimen. The test is performed to identify specific proteins on the surface of the virus, but because of its low sensitivity, it often produces false negative results.

What is a PCR Test?

Difference between Rapid Test Antigen and PCR-2

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a relatively new approach to detect new pathogens directly from clinical specimens. PCR is a diagnostic method for testing and detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is an in-vitro technique for DNA amplification using a laboratory technique called PCR. It is a simplified version of the DNA replication process that occurs during cell division.

The test looks for the presence of viral RNA, the genetic material of the virus. It uses gene amplification to detect the presence of nucleic acids of individual infectious agents, and the technology is capable of detecting multiple pathogens from single patient specimens. A fluid sample is taken from the patient’s nasal swab and results may be available within minutes depending on various factors. PCR assays promise high specificity.

Also read: The Difference Between Antibiotics and Vaccines

Difference between Rapid Antigen Test and PCR

Here are some differences between Rapid Antigen Test and COVID-19 PCR based on the method used, completion time and specificity.

Method used:

Rapid test antigen the so-called rapid test is a type of diagnostic test that detects the presence of protein fragments specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. Tests are performed to identify specific proteins on the surface of the virus.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), on the other hand, is a relatively new technique used to detect novel pathogens directly from clinical specimens. It is the gold standard diagnostic method for COVID-19 testing that uses gene amplification to detect the presence of nucleic acids of individual infectious agents.

Completion Time:

Antigen test The so-called rapid test is used to determine whether a person has an active or previous COVID-19 infection based on a nasopharyngeal swab specimen. The turnaround time for results is very fast in most cases, meaning you can get the quickest results in 15 minutes, or in extreme cases, it may take a day or two at most.

PCR Test look for the presence of viral RNA, the genetic material of the virus, which gives a clear picture of whether a patient is infected with the virus, and results can take 24 to 48 hours depending on the location of the laboratory.

Specificity:

Antigen test relatively more economical than molecular techniques but often less sensitive. Due to their low sensitivity, antigen tests often give false negative results. The PCR test promises high specificity, sensitivity, and early detection of COVID-19 infection, effectively narrowing the viremia window period.

PCR Test is one of the fastest and most accurate laboratory diagnostic methods for detecting the COVID-19 virus, and a positive test result is considered highly confirmatory because a double test is performed before reporting any infection.

If you have symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 infection, then the PCR test is the ideal test for early diagnosis and detection as it promises high specificity and sensitivity, which effectively helps narrow the viremic window period. The PCR test has become the gold standard for the diagnosis and early detection of the COVID-19 virus.

Rapid antigen tests are relatively economical than molecular techniques but are often less sensitive and produce false negative results. While the rapid test looks for the presence of protein fragments specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the PCR test detects the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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