Understanding COVID-19 Tests

If you have questions about COVID-19 tests, you’re not alone. This quick overview will clear up the differences between tests so you can make informed decisions for your health.

Molecular PCR Tests

This is the type of test we offer at Physicians Immediate Care, as it has high accuracy, speed and sensitivity. For a PCR test, a healthcare provider takes a sample using a nasal swab. The provider then uses a machine to check for genetic material that matches the virus that causes COVID-19.

Thanks to new technology, PCR tests can now be processed in the clinic in less than 15 minutes. Whether or not you have COVID-19, getting fast, accurate results allows us to provide the appropriate care. If you test positive, your physician can explain how to keep yourself and others safe. If you test negative, your physician can further investigate, diagnose and treat the cause of any symptoms you have.

Need a COVID-19 test? Find a rapid testing location near you.

Antigen Tests

Antigen tests work by checking a throat or nasal swab for special proteins, called antigens, that are part of the coronavirus. These tests are offered at many testing sites due to their speed and low cost.

The accuracy for antigen tests is slightly lower than PCR tests, with a 5% false negative rate. (This is when the test says you don’t have COVID-19 when you really do.) If you get a negative result from an antigen test, you are advised to take a PCR test to check the accuracy.

Antibody Tests for Past Infections

Unlike antigen and PCR tests, antibody tests do not tell you if you currently have COVID-19. These tests work by checking a blood sample for antibodies made by the immune system to help fight off the virus. They can only tell you if you had a recent past infection.

There are some concerns about the accuracy of antigen tests. Physicians Immediate Care does not currently offer them.

Learn More about our COVID-19 Tests

To learn more about the COVID-19 tests and related services offered by Physicians Immediate Care, visit our COVID-19 information page or contact a clinic near you.