Polaris Parkway Internal Medicine & Pediatrics

Bradley A. Lisko, MD

Phillip N. Simon, MD

Lauren McClain,  MSN, APRN, FNP-C
Working hand-in-hand to meet your healthcare needs
We strive to provide the best care to patients of all ages using evidence-based medicine, technology and compassion
Copyright 2020 Polaris Parkway Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Is one type of COVID test better than another?
Before you can understand your test results, you need to understand which test you are getting.  The PCR test will take a small sample of the virus's RNA and amplify it many times.  This test is very good at detecting COVID-19.  It is possible that you may have a very small amount of virus in your nasal passages and test positive, even though you do not go on to get sick.  It is possible this test may remain positive for several weeks, even after you have recovered from illness, because the virus has not been completely cleared from your body.
Rapid antigen tests are quick and convenient, but these test results must be interpreted carefully.  Most of these tests were designed to be used only in patients with symptoms and during a limited window of time during the course of their symptoms.  If you have a negative rapid antigen test, but your suspicion for having COVID-19 is high, you should have a PCR test to confirm.  Positive tests are generally reliable although it is possible to have a false positive test as well.

Depending on your individual situation, this information should help you to choose the best test.

This page was last updated: January 4, 2021