As COVID-19 continues to run its course, COVID testing has provided immense value in containing the spread of the virus. If you are feeling under the weather or believe that you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you’re probably looking into the types of testing available to you. In this blog, we are going to look at the differences between the two most commonly used tests to diagnose COVID-19: rapid antigen tests and PCR tests.
Rapid Antigen Tests
A rapid antigen test is considered most accurate for individuals who are experiencing symptoms. The test itself involves collecting secretions via a nasal swab and then is examined for protein fragments that are specific to the coronavirus. While these tests are known for their quick turnaround – usually around 15-20 minutes – they are generally less accurate than PCR tests and can reveal false negatives and false positives. If you receive a negative rapid test but are still experiencing symptoms, we recommend taking a PCR test for confirmation.
Similar to rapid tests, PCR tests are taken via a nasal swab and can be administered to individuals with or without symptoms. However, PCR tests are considered to be the top-of-the-line standard with COVID-19 testing. Instead of looking for proteins, PCR tests use a polymerase chain reaction to identify the viral genetic material of the virus. Since this test is looking for the specific genetic material it can detect the virus within days of infection, even if you are not experiencing symptoms. A PCR test is the safest choice when it comes to testing your asymptomatic employees, otherwise the virus may spread without the carriers being aware they are doing so. The turnaround time for a PCR test is usually between 2-5 days but can be longer depending on the demand in your area.
NEW Rapid PCR Tests
A Rapid PCR test has been recently approved by the FDA and is soon to be available for select healthcare organizations – including OnSite Health. This new test combines the timeliness of the rapid antigen tests and the accuracy of the lab-processed PCR tests into one convenient solution. Rapid PCR tests are completed using a nasal swab and can reveal results in as little as 15 minutes.
OnSite Health’s Pandemic Response
In addition to its COVID-19 testing services, OnSite Health is available to provide the following services across the country:
- At home COVID-19 Tests can be sent overnight directly to your employees. We receive the results within 24 to 48 hours once received by the lab. After receiving the results, we will notify your employees.
- On-site antibody testing
- Antibody or serology tests look for antibodies in your blood to determine if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. The results for this type of testing are expected back within 3 days.
- Return to Work Management
- OnSite Health will call each of the employees isolating due to testing positive for, or having been exposed to, COVID-19 every day, Monday through Friday, while in isolation. A daily summary of those isolating is sent to client designees. The end goal of this program is to make a referral back to the employer for when the employee can return to work.
- Regular On-site Occupational Nursing is available 24/7 with 4-hour visits minimum.
- On-site or Remote Entrance Monitoring including temperature, in-person or electronic questionnaires and COVID-19 testing as directed by the CDC.
- General Consulting by a Registered Nurse for medically related matters Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm EST.
- Pandemic Response Planning
- If you need a written pandemic response plan tailored to your company’s unique requirements, we are here to help!