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PCR, Antigen, Antibody Testing

Covid-19 testing can be very complicated and one of the things that differentiates us at Good Hearts Testing is that our goal is to provide the best care to our customers rather then trying to make as much money as we can. I feel my business has expanded as much through having honest conversations about testing with my customers and advising them when to be tested or if they need to be tested at all as it has through delivering excellent customer service to the people we do test.


Part of delivering the best care is performing the appropriate test at the appropriate time for the appropriate patient.


PCR testing:


PCR testing (sometimes referred to as Molecular testing) is the Gold Standard test for detecting Covid-19. It is typically performed via Nasopharyngeal swab and can often detect Covid-19 infection before the onset of symptoms. This test detects viral RNA, is highly sensitive and specific, and is very unlikely to give false positive or false negative results. I recommend getting tested at least 5-7 days after exposure to Covid-19 as getting tested too early may result in false negative as Covid-19 can have an incubation period anywhere from 2-14 weeks.

A negative Covid-19 PCR test 14 days after exposure to Covid-19 is the gold standard for ruling out Covid-19 infection so my recommendation is getting tested at days 5-7 and then day 14 after exposure to someone with Covid-19.


PCR testing is the BEST test to accurately diagnose acute Covid-19 infection in asymptomatic patients, The ONLY test that should be used to screen asymptomatic patients for Covid 19 infections, and the ONLY test to screen for early infection in those exposed to Covid-19.


The main downside of PCR testing is that is requires a specialized lab to process the sample and is more expensive than other testing modalities. Our PCR tests result the following day for tests done Monday-Thursday and within 48-72 hours for tests performed Friday-Sunday.


Antigen Testing:

Antigen testing or Rapid Covid-19 testing detects for fragments of proteins found on or within the Covid-19 virus.

These tests should ONLY be used to screen for Covid-19 infection in SYMPTOMATIC patients as they are not accurate enough to rule out Covid-19 infection in asymptomatic patients or in patients early in their disease process. Antigen tests are more affordable, can provide results within 15 minutes to 1 hour, but sacrifice accuracy when compared to PCR testing. If you are sick with symptoms concerning for Covid-19 a positive antigen test detects acute Covid-19 infection with a very high accuracy, but a negative test does not rule out Covid-19 infection.

A person with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and a NEGATIVE antigen test should have a PCR test performed to rule out Covid-19 infection as Antigen testing can miss up to 15% of true Covid-19 infections.


Antibody Testing:


Antibody testing is used to identify IGM and IGG antibodies for Covid-19. Antibodies typically are detectable between 1-3 weeks after acute Covid-19 infection. Antibody testing should not be used as a diagnostic test for acute Covid-19 infection.


Our protocol uses Antibody testing for two clinical scenarios.


1. To test our customers who have experienced Covid-19 symptoms over 1-3 weeks ago and have now recovered but were not tested for Covid-19 during their illness. Antibody testing in this situation allows us to detect a prior Covid-19 infection


2. To test our customers with a previously diagnosed Covid-19 infection (diagnosed via PCR or antigen testing) to check for the development of antibodies after Covid-19 infection.


Thank you for taking the time to read this post and understand more about the Covid-19 testing process. Stay safe and feel free contact us if you need our services.


-Dr. Q

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