Know The Difference Between Rapid Antigen and PCR Test: COVID-19

Know The Difference Between Rapid Antigen and PCR Test: COVID-19

COVID-19 testing is essential to controlling the spread of coronavirus. Knowing whether someone is infected or not helps healthcare professionals make informed decisions and protect themselves and other medical staff. Additionally, knowing where outbreaks are taking place helps officials and communities take steps to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The two most common ways to test for COVID-19 are through Rapid Antigen Tests and RT-PCR Tests.


The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test is a highly scientific methodology of determining whether the COVID-19 virus is present. Typically, a nasal swab is taken and molecular biology is used to test the sample. RT-PCR tests are extremely accurate and can detect very small amounts of the virus, but are costly and time-consuming. They are best suited for single samples that do not need urgent results.

Rapid Antigen Test

The Rapid Antigen test is designed to detect the proteins that are found in the COVID-19 virus. Like the RT-PCR test, a nasal swab is taken, but it is analyzed there and then with results available as soon as within 15 minutes.

The sample is mixed with a solution that is then applied to a paper strip. If the COVID-19 virus is present, the mixture will interact with the strip and give a visual result that is easy to interpret.

Antigen tests are low-cost, efficient, and require little equipment or specialized staff. This makes them optimal for situations where results are needed right away or when large groups of people are being tested at the same time. The trade-off is that the Rapid Antigen test is not as accurate as of the RT-PCR test. Positive results can be trusted, but because high viral loads are required for a positive result it is possible to get a false negative if the patient has a lower viral load.

Which test you decide on depends on your circumstances. If you need results quickly, the Rapid Antigen test can tell you in minutes if you currently have the virus or not. For more accurate results that are not immediate, the RT-PCR test can reveal if you have or have had the virus.

For a Rapid Antigen test in Hackbridge, contact Anna Pharmacy. They provide convenient and safe Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests as well as the RT-PCR test.