The world still faces the challenge of containing the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) pandemic. Continued and widespread testing is one major way of getting ahead of the virus, yet few people are aware of what goes on during lab testing.
Let’s talk about some of the basics surrounding one of the most commonly performed lab tests for the novel coronavirus: the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
COVID-Testing and Lab Procedure
If you are eligible for a PCR test, the doctor or attending provider will order a testing kit or have one ready. These kits contain specialized swabs and different reagents.
Your provider will first use a swab to collect mucus from your throat or nose. They will then place the sample into a sterile container and send the swab and all other contents of the kit to a lab for further processing.
On the way to a laboratory, the handlers must keep the sample under particular conditions to ensure the accuracy of the results and to avoid false negatives or positives of COVID-19. They should transport the test kit to the lab within 72 hours. Further, they should see to it that the swabs are always at a specific temperature range.
At the lab, a technician uses chemicals to extract the genetic material of the virus from the sample. They use primers and probes and place the genetic material into a thermal cycler, which is a machine that conducts controlled cooling and heating cycles. This converts the virus’ RNA into DNA. It then creates copies of this DNA.
The virus’ DNA binds with probes, emitting a light that is visible to the machine. This indicates a positive result.
Laboratory Testing for COVID-19 in Rochester, New York
The symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to the common cold or the flu, or you may not even experience any symptoms. For this reason, it’s very difficult to determine whether you might be infected without lab testing. The only reliable way to determine your diagnosis is through testing.
For the novel coronavirus, health professionals often offer either antibody tests or molecular tests. The latter is a more definitive way of determining whether you are positive for the virus, while the former is used to identify whether you were previously infected (likely unknowingly).
With these tests, you want to ensure that the providers handle it carefully and correctly for an accurate result. Our team at Cornerstone Urgent Care Center is fully trained and capable of conducting these tests for our patients. We offer both tests once we determine it to be necessary and appropriate for your diagnosis and treatment.
Before you arrive at our facility, call us at (585) 207-0088 or send us a message online. We ensure that all of our medical professionals and visitors at the clinic follow specific protocols to help keep you as safe as possible from being infected with COVID-19. With our testing services, let us help you stay on top of the virus and in charge of your health.