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Two Tests that Diagnose an Infection

Diagnostic tests detect active infections. This is the test you want if you think you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

There are currently two types of diagnostic tests available.

  • The molecular real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test detects the virus’s genetic material.
    The antigen test detects specific proteins on the surface of the virus.
  • The RT-PCR nasopharyngeal tests are more widely used and more familiar. Most involve sticking a 6-inch swab deep into your nose to collect virus samples to test.

However, some more recently approved RT-PCR tests seek to avoid the discomfort associated with the nasopharyngeal swab tests by allowing samples to be collected via a shallow swab of the nose or by testing saliva for the presence of the virus.

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