Real Time PCR vs. Traditional PCR Test: All You Need to Know
Access to reliable, fast, and effective COVID-19 testing services is the need of the hour.
This calls for robust testing practices that have proven to be incredibly beneficial in curbing the rapid spread of the disease. Thanks to advanced medical technologies, several types of Coronavirus tests are now available in the market. From same day PCR to next day PCR, you can avail any type of COVID-19 test that best suits your needs.
The world has also experienced a shortage of testing kits. There was a massive supply-demand gap that fueled the spread. Absence of easily accessible testing services soon become a challenge for many countries across the globe. Distinctive samples are taken in each test to identify the mutating nature and hallmarks of the novel coronavirus.
In this detailed blog post, we take a look at the difference between the two main types of COVID-19 tests known as RT-PCR and real time RT-PCR. We’ll also help you gauge the best test suited for your family’s or organization’s needs.
Why Are Diagnostics Tests Important
Before we dive into the PCR tests, we’d like to shed light on the importance of COVID-19 diagnostics tests. Organizations like the WHO, FDA, and CDC claimed that rapid testing policies have effectively curbed COVID-19 spread. Getting people tested is the best way to identify potential cases.
A diagnostic test helps detect whether you’ve contracted the disease. This results in timely isolation and quarantine, thereby leading to lower chances of spreading the virus.
Today, almost over one year into the pandemic, we have different types of COVID-19 tests that can be divided into two parts: Antibody and Antigen tests. In each test, the medical worker uses a different sample collection technique. The most common type of sample is referred to as the swab sample. A long Q-Tip like stick is used to collect a sample from your nose or throat.
The swab sample technique can be further classified into four types:
Nares means nasal. In this technique, the medical worker takes a sample by inserting a swab into your nostrils
Mid-turbinate is slightly painful than the previous one. This sample is taken from further up inside a person’s nostrils.
This is considered the most effective way to collect a sample for COVID-19 test; this technique uses a swab inserted all the way to the back of your throat through the nostrils. You might feel a slight discomfort; however, the process is quick and doesn’t cause abrasions.
This type of sample is collected from the pharynx—a part of your throat just behind the mouth.
In addition to nasal samples, saliva samples are also used to detect the presence of Coronavirus. This sample is easy to collect. It requires the person to spit on the swab. You may have heard about blood samples as well, but these are only collected at a clinic or for the antibody testing facility.
Now that you’re brushed up on the importance of diagnostic tests, let’s get into the what, why, when, and how of PCR AKA Polymerase Chain Reaction COVID-19 tests.
What is a PCR test?
In biological terms, a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is used to amplify and detect genetic material present in a person’s saliva or nasal sample. Compared to other genetic amplification techniques, a PCR test is less time-consuming but effective.
The two most important genetic molecules detected using a PCR test are known as Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). While many traditional genetic sequence detection tools are available in the market, a PCR test is found more effective, especially for detecting COVID-19.
The “RT” in RT-PCR tests stands for Reverse Transcription. When performing a lab procedure on RT-PCR samples, a nasopharyngeal sample is added to the test-tube. This substance develops numerous copies of the viral RNA that may be present in the sample.
Excess copies of a viral RNA results in a positive result. The RT-PCR tests is designed to prime and probe genetic molecules in a sample. An RT-PCR test also allows lab workers to get a clearer picture of the exact intensity of COVID-19 molecules.
Viruses such as the SARS-CoV-2 are RNA based. They can only be detected in a sample if there’s adequate infiltration of healthy cells. Once the virus comes in contact with healthy cells, it multiplies. COVID-19 can reprogram the cellular composition inside the human body and spread by copying viral RNA particles within seconds.
PCR tests are conducted to detect the presence of a viral RNA molecule. This genetic substance can be detected inside a human body before the Coronavirus has entered it. Therefore, detecting a viral RNA is a good way to tell whether someone has already been affected by the disease. This type of test is considered the gold standard in the times of Coronavirus.
The Sars-COV-2 is not simple RNA-virus. It’s constantly mutating and nullifying the test results obtained from traditional techniques. This is where the PCR comes into play.
The best part about a PCR test is that it can be conducted at home, in your car, at a laboratory, or clinics. Its turnaround time usually varies from one to three days. Early on, when the pandemic was at its prime, people faced extreme delays in results due to high demand.
What is a Real Time RT–PCR?
With rapid advances in the COVID-19 testing practices, medical researchers developed a real time RT-PCR test. The main difference between a traditional and real time PCR is that the latter is a nuclear-derived process. It detects the presence of a specific genetic molecule. The real time RT-PCR test identifies viral molecules in any kind of infectious pathogen.
This method was originally used to create markers for radioactive particles in the genetic materials. Now it has been refined to detect more complex viral RNAs. The real time RT-PCR test proved extremely effective in checking the current progress of Coronavirus inside an infected person.
The testing kits for real time RT–PCR were initially not accessible to general public. It was limited to healthcare workers and people employed at more vulnerable places. Many countries have used this test to detect complicated diseases like the Ebola virus and Zika virus. Thanks to mass production facilities, it’s being adopted for rapid COVID-19 detection at a national capacity.
Why Use Real Time PCR Test?
The real time RT-PCR test is more time-effective than traditional PCR test. It can provide prompt results with three hours of sample collection, allowing people to isolate if they’re COVID-19 positive. Ultimately, this leads to lower spread rate.
Along with the progression in health diagnosis, nucleic acid based COVID-19 detection techniques have become a rapid and reliable technology. It also has a lower potential of showing false positives and negatives. Since quick genetic mutation has been noticed in novel Coronavirus, the real time RT-PCR targets multiple genes to eliminate invalid results.
However, a real time PCR test can’t detect past infections. This is very important to monitor the development of virus in a community or a group of people. It can also help healthcare workers track and curb Coronavirus cases.
When to Get Tested for COVID-19?
Now that you understand the key differences between the traditional and real time PCR tests, here’s a list of all the signs that indicate you need to get tested for COVID-19 ASAP:
If you have one or more Coronavirus symptoms before or after the vaccination
If you’ve been in close contact with an infected person for over fifteen minutes
If you’ve participated in activities that might’ve put you at a risk of catching the virus
If you’re experiencing flu and fever like symptoms after a travel trip, an event, or a public gathering
For organizations, we strongly recommend a well-managed and controlled screening program. This shall include symptom tracking, rapid COVID testing, and implementation of standard SOPs before and after vaccinations.
You can contact us at Good Hearts Testing for reliable COVID-19 vaccination consultation today.
Pooled or Group Same Day and Next Day PCR Testing
With schools and workplaces reopening in the post-pandemic era, management and unions are on the lookout for strategies to protect students, employees, and public. While one way to get tested is to order an at-Home COVID test or visit a medical laboratory. You can now also opt for pool or group COVID testing services available across the US.
We, at Good Hearts Testing, offer impeccable and reliable COVID-19 testing services for corporate companies, media houses, production facilities, and more. Our expansive range of services include PCR tests for travel, group COVID tests, antigen testing, antibody testing, and rapid tests in Miami.
Our staff is well-trained, professional, and well-versed in conducting all types of same day and next day PCR tests to ensure your maximum satisfaction. Our website is replete with COVID-19 testing resources and guides to help you take a proactive decision in case you’ve developed symptoms.
What’s more, GHT’s fast and easy COVID testing services aren’t limited to corporate groups and production facilities in Miami. You can also reach out to us if you want to set up a drive-thru COVID testing facility for your students, employees, or general public. Families can order at-home PCR tests as well.
Understanding Your Test Results
After getting tested for COVID-19, many people face difficulties in understanding their test results.
PCR tests tend to provide a clear-cut, accurate result for COVID-19. But there’s also a possibility that your test may show a false negative or a false positive.
Getting a result on a false account doesn’t actually state that you haven’t contracted COVID-19 at all. There’s a chance that you might be affected but the viral RNA isn’t strong enough to show up on the test results.
If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but have received a negative report, keep practicing preventive measures.
Don’t forget the importance of maintaining social distancing, sanitizing hands, and wearing a mask in public. It’s better to stay at home and spend a 14-day quarantine period if you’re sick. For further information, contact your healthcare services provider to receive appropriate medication and treatment.
Fast, Easy, Reliable COVID-19 Testing Services in Miami
Initially, quick COVID tests in Miami were not accessible in bulk to corporate organizations, production houses, studios, and other high-density workplaces. However, COVID-19 testing services like Good Hearts Testing now offer easy and reliable COVID tests across Miami.
We offer same-day RT-PCR COVID-19 test, Next-day RT-PCR, quick COVID-19 screening, and home testing services. Whether you want to avail corporate COVID-19 testing service for your employees or family, contact Good Hearts Testing today. We also provide drive-thru antibody testing and home antibody testing at affordable rates.
Our Same Day PCR Test is available 7-days a week and starts at prices as low as $125 only. We offer special rates for group testing services involving 20 people or more.
For more details, contact GHT at (786) 747-7904.