PCR stands for a polymerase chain reaction. It is a test that detects genetic material from a specific organism like a virus. The test can detect the presence of a virus if a person’s body contains the virus at the time of a test. This test can also be used to detect present fragments of the virus even after you are no longer infected. At MBP, we have a wide range of testing kits, PCR test equipment, extraction equipment like Kingfisher Flex, and many more.
COVID-19 PCR Test
PCR test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that analyzes the upper respiratory specimen and looks for a genetic material, RNA, of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease. Scientists make use of PCR technology for amplifying tint amounts of RNA from specimens into deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that keeps on replicating until the virus is detected if present. PCR test is the gold standard test to diagnose COVID-19 since it was authorized to be used in February 2020. It is accurate and completely reliable.
Who Should Get Tested For Covid-19?
A healthcare provider will recommend getting tested for COVID-19 if a person is subjected to any of the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Body and muscle aches
- Loss of smell and taste
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
Although this must be kept in mind that not everyone with COVID-19 displays these symptoms, some people are asymptomatic, and neither do all the symptomatic people develop all the mentioned symptoms. Even if you are vaccinated and still feel a few symptoms, get yourself checked by your healthcare provider at your earliest priority.
Read More: A Beginner’s Guide To PCR
There are three main steps for the COVID-19 PCR test:
1. Sample Collection
A swab is used to collect respiratory material found in the nose. A swab is a soft tip on a flexible, long stick that goes inside your nose. There are different types of nose swabs that include a nasal swab, which collects a sample immediately inside the nostrils and nasopharyngeal swabs go even further inside the nasal cavity for sample collection. Any type of swab can be used to collect the specimen for PCR testing. Once the sample has been collected, the swab is sealed inside a tube and transported to a laboratory.
In the testing steps, special chemicals, enzymes, and a PCR machine is used. The machine is called a thermal cycler. Each heating and cooling cycle amplifies the quantity of the targeted genetic material in the test tube. After a couple of cycles, millions of copies of a tiny portion of the virus’s genetic material are observed in the test tube. One of the chemicals in the test tube can produce a fluorescent light if the virus is present in the specimen. Once it is amplified enough, the machine detects the signal. The signal is interpreted using a particular machine.
What Does A COVID-19 PCR Test Result Mean?
A positive test result indicates that it is highly probable that the person is infected with SARS-CoV-2. This can be caused due to an asymptomatic infection, but if the person can display symptoms, the infection can be termed COVID-19. Most people have a mild illness and can get back to retaining their health at home without medical care. However, immediate attention should be given if the condition worsens.
A negative test result indicates that the person probably does not have an infection of the virus at the time of sample collection. However, it is still possible to have COVID-19 but not get the virus detected by the test. For instance, this can happen if you recently caught the virus and did not display the symptoms yet. It can also happen if you had the virus for longer than a week ago before getting tested. A negative test does not necessarily indicate that you are safe for a particular length of time: You can still get exposed to COVID-19 after being tested. You may get infected and also spread the virus to everyone you come in contact with.
If your test results come positive, talk to your healthcare provider. Isolate yourself from others, even your family, so that you do not end up spreading the virus. If the test is negative, continue taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others from catching the virus. For reliable testing kits, DNA extraction kits, PPE, and Kingfisher Flex consumables, head over to MBP.