What type of COVID-19 Testing Do I Need?

COVID-19 testing is becoming more and more available as public health agencies and healthcare providers now have appropriate testing resources for growing demand. Testing for the novel coronavirus was extremely limited in the opening months of the pandemic. However, that has changed in recent weeks with more access to testing than before.

But specific tests are more useful depending upon a patient’s healthcare risks and infection status. For example, a serology or antibody test helps evaluate a patient’s immunity. Conversely a swab diagnostic test is simply to determine if the COVID-19 virus is active in a patient’s bloodstream.

Here is a breakdown of the different types of COVID-19 testing that make sense for patients based on their major needs and vulnerablities:

Standard Diagnostic COVID-19 Testing

Diagnostic testing, or reverse Transcriptase-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing, is the process to help providers determine if they have an active COVID-19 infection.

Using a cotton swab, a provider examines a patient’s nose or throat to detect the presence of the coronavirus. The exact sensitivity, like the ability to correctly identify those with the illness — true positive rate, is accurate with still an approximate rate of 90% accuracy. The test specificity (ability to correctly identify patients that don’t have the virus or “true negative rate”) is not known.  

Symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to symptoms of the flu, common cold, and other allergies, which means that a symptomatic patient benefits from a COVID-19 test. Book a test through a telemedicine pre-screening if you have any present symptoms.

COVID-19 Antibody and Serology Testing

Unlike a diagnostic test, a COVID-19 antibody test (serology test) is used to detect a patient’s immune response to the virus. A blood draw is taken to see if your body produced antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection.

If COVID-19 antibodies are detected, it does not mean that you are immune to the virus for life. It means that you could have a longer immunity or a short-term immunity of a few weeks. But , the presence of antibodies and testing is crucial for virological surveillance. Virological surveillance is the process of counting the number of active and recovering COVID-19 cases, which helps influence policy and re-opening decisions in your local community.

For most insured patients, there is no copay required for patients undergoing an antibody test, but it helps to first check with your health plan administrator first. Since COVID-19 testing is now being covered by a majority of in-state insurers, with a nominal fee collected for those who self-pay. If you have questions about antibody testing payment please contact your health plan insurance provider to learn more.

The news cycle is currently dominated by COVID-19 updates, and we understand that it is hard for patients to make sense of all of this information. At Instant Urgent Care, we’re here to provide the COVID-19 tests that make the most sense for you.