Types of COVID-19 Tests, Explained
Michael Parry, MD, Director, Department of Infectious Diseases; Asha Shah, MD, Associate Director, Department of Infectious Diseases and Merima Sestovic, RN, Infection Preventionist
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See COVID-19 Updates
Here is what you need to know about testing being offered at Stamford Health:
- COVID-19 testing has come a long way since our first positive cases here at Stamford Health in early March.
- COVID-19 is an ever-evolving situation and we are constantly staying on top of the latest information, testing and treatments as they develop.
- Because of the rapid developments in testing, there has been some confusion around the different types of COVID-19 tests being offered.
What are the different types of COVID-19 tests and what do they all mean?
The "COVID-19 Test"
- What is it?
Many of us in the medical world call this the PCR test (short for Polymerase Chain Reaction test). PCR testing looks for RNA (the genetic material) of the virus. A positive result usually means you have the virus in your system, although the test sometimes shows a positive result for 2-3 weeks after the infection has disappeared.
- How does it work?
- We take a sample by inserting a swab into your nose and going straight back (nasopharyngeal swab) or by swabbing the back of your throat (oropharyngeal swab).
- We then test the fluid on the swab to detect the presence of the virus.
- Because of recent advances, test results are available very quickly.
- How can I get tested for COVID-19?
- Please call your primary care physician if you are concerned about, or have symptoms of, COVID-19. You need an order from your doctor to have this test at an outpatient testing location.
- If you are admitted to Stamford Hospital with symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are being treated in the Emergency Department, we will test you for the virus.
- When will I get my results?
- If you are tested at an outpatient testing facility, you can expect test results in less than 24 hours.
- If you are tested as a patient admitted to Stamford Hospital or in our Emergency Department, your care team will quickly receive your results, sometimes in as few as 30 minutes.
- Can the COVID-19 test ever produce false negatives?
On rare occasions, the tests can produce a false negative. This may be because the amount of the virus in your sample is so low, it can't even be detected or because not enough of your sample was taken for an accurate reading.
The COVID-19 Antibody Testing
COVID-19 Plasma Infusion Study