Many have been complaining that the standard PCR test to detect the new coronavirus is too slow when it comes to results. In a lot of critical cases, the results come too late, meaning the patient had already died of COVID-19 complications.
There is a quicker alternative to the standard PCR test: it’s called “rapid antibody testing” and a lot of people, including government agencies are using them to help spot more potential cases. However, we must take note that these rapid test kits do not actually detect if a person has the COVID-19 virus or not. Only the PCR test can detect the virus.
The rapid antibody test requires a blood sample. Instead of detecting the presence of the actual virus, the rapid test can only detect the presence of antibodies specific to the virus.
What does the presence of these antibodies mean? It’s a sign that the person a) is currently infected; or b) the person was previously infected and has now recovered. The processing time for this test will only take approximately 15 to 45 minutes.
Unlike the rapid antibody tests, PCR tests use actual swabs from patients taken from the nose or throat. This test takes longer before results are released; from 24 hours or up to 3 days for the results to be released.