PCR means polymerase chain reaction. It’s the type of test used to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. With this testing method, the presence of a virus is detected if you have the virus at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of the virus even after you are no longer infected.
What is a COVID19 PCR test?
The polymerase chain reaction PCR test for COVID19 is the molecular test that analyzes your upper respiratory specimen, looking for genetic material (ribonucleic acid or RNA) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Scientists use the PCR technology to amplify small amounts of RNA from specimens into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is replicated until SARS-CoV-2 is detectable if present. The PCR test has been the gold standard test for diagnosing COVID-19 since authorized for use in February 2020. It’s accurate and reliable.
Three key steps to the COVID19 PCR test:
Sample collection: A specialized healthcare professional via swab takes a nasal or throat material. The swab is a soft tip on a long, flexible stick that goes into your nose or throat. Either type of swab is sufficient for collecting material for the COVID19 PCR test. After collection, the swab is sealed and then sent to our laboratory for analysis.
Extraction: When the sample arrives at the lab, the (extract) genetic material is isolated from the rest of the material in the sample.
- PCR: Utilizing special reagents (chemicals, enzymes etc) the sample is analyzed at a PCR machine called a thermal cycler. Each heating and cooling cycle increases (amplifies) the amount of the targeted genetic material in the test tube. After many cycles, millions of copies of a small portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material are present in the test tube. One of the chemicals in the tube produces a fluorescent light if SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sample. Once amplified enough, the PCR machine can detect this signal. Scientists use special software to interpret the signal as a positive test result.
What do COVID-19 PCR test results mean?
Positive PCR Test result means that you have an infection with SARS-CoV-2. This could be due to asymptomatic infection, but if you have symptoms, then this infection is called COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and can recover safely at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions or concerns.
Negative PCR Test result means you probably didn't have an infection with SARS-CoV-2 at the time your sample was collected. However, it's possible to have COVID-19 but not have the virus detected by the test. For example, this may happen if you recently became infected but you don’t have symptoms yet — or it could happen if you've had COVID-19 for more than a week before being tested. A negative test doesn’t mean you are safe for any length of time: You can be exposed to COVID-19 after your test, get infected and spread the SARS-Cov-2 virus to others.
If your test is positive, talk with your healthcare provider, stay home and separate yourself from others.
If your test is negative, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19.
What's the difference between PCR Test and Rapid Antigen test for COVID-19?
There are two types of tests for COVID-19: the PCR Test and the antigen test.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): tests for the presence of the actual virus’s genetic material or its fragments as it breaks down. PCR is the most reliable and accurate test for detecting active infection. PCR tests typically take hours to perform, but some are faster.
Antigen test: detects bits of proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens. Antigen tests typically take only 15 to 30 minutes. Rapid antigen tests are most accurate when used within a few days of the start of your symptoms, which is when the largest amount of virus is present in your body.
Which COVID test is more accurate?
The antigen test is typically faster but is less sensitive than the PCR Test. Because the Rapid Antigen test is not as accurate as the PCR Test, if an antigen test is negative, your healthcare provider could request a PCR test to confirm the negative antigen test result.
What COVID test do you need for your Fit-To-Fly Certificate?
Both PCR Test and Rapid Antigen are used for TRAVEL CERTIFICATE. However each country has its own regulations and directives depending on whether you are vaccinated or not and what country are you coming from.
We cannot answer that question to you since we just perform the tests that you order us and we cannot take any further responsibility for your travelling.
Useful information though you may find at IATA webpage here.