COVID testing , Antigen versus RNAWednesday, October 7th, 2020, 8:10 pm
There are many tests available at this point. Some are done with blood and some with swabs from the nasopharynx and now some from saliva samples.
The MOST accurate test available is the RT-PCR test, most often performed using a nasopharyngeal swab. These tests are typically sent out to a lab that can perform this very sophisticated test. There is one manufacturer at present that makes this test available to do in the clinic but it is not widely available.
The commonly advertised RAPID test uses an "antigen" test. This machine looks for the presence of proteins from the virus whereas the RT-PCR test looks for the genetic material RNA from the virus. The rapid antigen test is NOT as accurate. In fact there is discussion that a patient with symptoms suggestive of COVID who has a negative antigen test should STILL HAVE a RT-PCR test to confirm that the rapid antigen test is correct.
Most experts agree the best use for the RAPID ANTIGEN test is to screen asymptomatic patients, not to diagnose COVID in someone with symptoms.
Suncoast Urgent Care is currently just performing the RT-PCR test and we have very consistently had 48 hour turnaround times for this test.
If you need a test to travel out of the country, or for return to school in Pasco and Pinellas counties, these all require the RT-PCR test, they will NOT accept an antigen test.