COVID-19 Testing Option: What’s an Antigen Test?

Increases in vaccination status and rigorous quarantining have helped slow the spread of COVID-19. However, the virus and its different variants continue to spread. As such, you or someone you know may need COVID-19 testing. 

Two main types of tests exist—PCR and antigen. Many ask, “What’s an antigen test, and how does it differ from PCR tests?” 

This blog will explore the differences between these diagnostic tests and when it makes sense to get one over the other. We’ll also explore covid testing services in Eatontown, NJ. 

How Are Antigen Tests Different Than PCR Tests? 

Let’s start by answering, “What’s an antigen test?” The process involves using a nasal swab to collect a specimen.

Antigen tests typically take around 15 to 30 minutes to process fully. Experts also call antigen tests rapid tests because they can quickly test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

While antigen tests are quick to process, they’re not the most accurate. In addition, these tests can produce more false negatives or positives than PCR tests. 

What Are PCR Tests?

PCR tests generally use a similar nasopharyngeal swab method, but some may also use a patient’s saliva. These tests offer greater accuracy and are considered the “gold standard,” according to the CDC

However, PCR tests can take a day or longer to process, and they can cost more if your insurance or healthcare provider doesn’t cover the test. 

When Should You Get an Antigen Test? 

Let’s review some scenarios when you should get an antigen test: 

  • When a patient isn’t fully vaccinated and came into contact with someone suspected of having the virus 
  • If you’re fully vaccinated and not showing symptoms but came into contact with someone with the virus, take an antigen test five to seven days afterward. 
  • Suppose you recently participated in activities like social gatherings, traveling, or attending an indoor event with a huge crowd. In these cases, it’s good practice to test five to seven days afterward, even if you don’t have symptoms. 

An antigen test offers a quicker alternative to a PCR test. However, if an antigen test comes back negative and you still experience COVID-19 symptoms, you should take a PCR test for more accurate results. 

Call A2Z Diagnostics Today 

At A2Z Diagnostics, we’re proud to be one of the country’s largest-growing molecular diagnostic test facilities. We provide antigen, PCR, and flu testing. 

Learn more about “What’s an antigen test” and how our COVID-19 antigen test can help by calling us at 732-542-3200!