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Cleveland Clinic expert compares COVID-19 tests

An skilled from Cleveland Clinic is right here to clarify the distinction between a molecular take a look at and antigen take a look at.

CLEVELAND — Editor’s Observe: The above video is from December 16, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to unfold throughout the nation, and particularly in Ohio, you will need to perceive the totally different testing accessible.

In response to a latest put up on Cleveland Clinic’s Well being Necessities weblog, understanding the various kinds of exams getting used is a key consider understanding your outcomes – whether or not which means the prospect of a false detrimental or constructive, symptomatic timeline and the way the take a look at works.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic immunizes first frontline healthcare staff with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

There are at the moment two main COVID-19 exams accessible to sufferers: molecular testing and fast antigen testing. 

There’s a third sort of testing that appears for antibodies that fight the virus, however it is just administered often and might solely inform in case you’ve had the virus prior to now. 

Cleveland Clinic pathologist Brian Rubin, MD, PhD, explains that the molecular exams are “extra delicate and particular” than antigen exams, thus making them extra correct. The molecular take a look at is usually carried out by a nasal swab. “What molecular exams do is it appears for and detects the RNA (or nucleic acid) part of the virus,” Dr. Rubin explains. “That is against the antigen exams the place are in search of the proteins from the virus.”

If in case you have heard about PCR COVID-19 testing, these are probably the most generally used and a subset of molecular exams. “PCR” stands for “polymerase chain response” which is a approach of amplifying nucleic acids in your take a look at pattern. “In response to the  FDA, the polymerase chain response converts any virus RNA in your pattern into DNA and ‘amplifies’ it by making thousands and thousands of copies of the DNA which the molecular take a look at can then detect,” the put up continues. Dr. Rubin provides that the amplification permits labs to detect the virus extra simply.

So far as which take a look at is extra correct, Dr. Rubin says the molecular take a look at is extra correct than the antigen take a look at. Although, that comes at a value. Whereas the antigen take a look at could also be much less correct, it may give ends in as little as 15 minutes and do not require being despatched to a lab. The molecular take a look at could take 24 hour hours or longer relying on if they’re being despatched to an outdoor lab and the way backed-up the lab is with different exams. 

“So, for now, the PCR exams stay the gold commonplace of COVID-19 exams,” the put up concludes. 

Editor’s Observe: The under video aired on December 15, 2020


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