PCR and Rapid tests
COVID-19 tests are available that can test for current infection or past infection.
A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) also called PCR tests and antigen tests also called rapid tests³. A viral test checks specimens from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Viral tests can be performed in a laboratory, at a testing site, or at home or anywhere else1.
A PCR is a type of viral diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The PCR procedure works by first amplifying – or making many copies of – the virus’s genetic material, if any is present in a person’s specimen. In other words, PCRs can reliably detect small amounts of SARS-CoV-2 and are unlikely to return a false-negative result of SARS-CoV-2².
¹ Testing for COVID-19 | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2021
² Test for Current Infection | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2021
³ Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2021
⁴ Interim Guidance for Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2 | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2021