Rapid and PCR COVID tests: What’s the difference?


Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – As the COVID situation becomes increasingly confusing, so has the protocol for testing.

Does a positive rapid test confirm that you have a case?

Will it tell you what variant you have?

Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble says rapid tests can be a huge help for purposes of handling the spread.

But it won’t tell you if you have the Delta or any other kind of variant.

That’s when you have to go get the PCR test, so authorities can conclusively say that you have the virus and what strain it is.

Right now when you go, you’re looking at, am I positive or not, and that’s what a rapid will tell you very quickly. Or am I positive or not and I need to have that confirmed, that’s what we mostly do around the Valley, is a PCR confirmatory test.

Howard Gamble, Administrator, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department

Right now the emphasis is on stopping the upward trend in cases.

But Gamble believes we’ll be seeing advances in the testing technology we have now.

That would mean a more definitive and accurate result, that would help doctors get the right treatment to those who desperately need it.

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