There’s no shortage of news about COVID-19 these days. The challenge becomes sorting through it all to find the most accurate, relevant and necessary information. At Be Well MD, Dr. Carlson and our clinical team receive questions every day on the topic.
Can you explain the types of tests for COVID-19?
There are three major types of tests for COVID-19:
- Nucleic acid amplifications tests (NAATs) –The test is performed primarily on upper respiratory specimens (including nasopharyngeal swabs, nasal swabs, and saliva) but can also be performed on lower respiratory tract samples. Sensitivity and specificity are generally high, although performance varies based on the specific assay used, specimen quality, and duration of illness.
- Serology – Serologic tests measure antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and are primarily used to identify patients who have had COVID-19 in the past as well as patients with current infection who have had symptoms for three to four weeks. Sensitivity and specificity are highly variable, and cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses has been reported.
- Antigen tests – Antigen tests can also be used to diagnosis active infection, although they are less sensitive than NAATs. These tests are typically performed on nasopharyngeal or nasal swabs.
Both NAATs and antigen tests can be used to screen patients in group settings, such as senior living environments.
If you have a question about COVID-19, call us at 512-553-1921.