What does COVID-19 testing look like?

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

We are currently living in a worldwide pandemic. This is a very unusual time that we have been put in. The future is unknown with the infection that is going on around the world. 

In order to get information on how to address the cases, it’s important to test for COVID-19. There are two different types of COVID-19 testing: diagnostic and antibody tests.

According to the FDA, “Diagnostic tests can show if you have an active COVID-19 infection and need to take steps to quarantine or self isolate. Antibody tests look for antibodies in your immune system produced in response to SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, but antibody tests should not be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.”

There are two different types of COVID-19 tests. One is a saliva test. The saliva test is where you spit into a tube and then send it into testing. Saliva tests can be self-collected. They are as good as the nasal swabs, according to health care workers.

The second type of COVID-19 tests are the nasal swab. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A fluid sample is collected by inserting a long nasal swab (nasopharyngeal swab) into your nostril and taking fluid from the back of your nose or by using a shorter nasal swab (mid-turbinate swab) to get a sample.”

The saliva test is easier to perform because you can do it at home. The saliva test does not require interaction with a healthcare worker. For the long nasal swab you normally have to go to a testing site. 

Some commonly asked questions are: Do the tests hurt? When should I get tested? Which COVID-19 test should I take?

A COVID-19 nasal swab may cause some pain. If it is extremely painful, say something to the healthcare worker that is swabbing your nose. You may feel some discomfort when the test is being performed, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. 

If you begin to develop symptoms, you should consider getting tested right away. The CDC also encourages you to get tested every two weeks to be cautious. 

For which test to take, you should consider the situation you are in right now. If you need fast results, get a rapid test. According to UC Davis, in other instances, “A molecular PCR test is more appropriate. A PCR test can be used for asymptomatic testing or to confirm a positive antigen test.”