COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Testing

Sars-Cov-2Information Sheet

Tomorrow’s Health provides one of the most sensitive real-time PCR (RT-PCR) tests for SARS-CoV-2 currently available: able to detect down to 150 virus particles per milliliter (mL) of patient specimen.

This test is offered as an individual (single) or a pooled test. See below recommendations for when the single or pooled test should be ordered:

Individual SARS-CoV-2 test.

This is the most sensitive form of the test and should be ordered when:
1. A patient has COVID-19 like symptoms
2. There is high suspicion that an individual has COVID-19, even when they are not showing symptoms (e.g., close contact with a COVID-
19 positive person)

Pooled SARS-CoV-2 test.

Tomorrow’s Health will be pooling three (3) specimens together in this form of the test. Thus, this test is less sensitive than the individual test and should only be ordered when/for:
1. There is a low likelihood (chance) that the individual has COVID-19
2. Screening of large numbers of individuals where the prevalence of COVID-19 infection is expected to be low (<5%) (e.g., regular screening of employees, students, etc.)

SARS-CoV-2 antibody (IgM and IgG) test.

Tomorrow’s Health is performing a rapid, fingerstick test that detects both IgM and IgG in your blood.
1. The presence of antibody may mean that you currently have COVID-19 or have had it in the past
2. A negative test does not completely rule out current or past COVID-19 infection, as antibodies do not appear early in disease (i.e.,
within the first two weeks) and decrease over time after infection (i.e., months to years later)

covid 19 rapid testing tri cities

Why Choose the COVID-19 PCR Test Offered at Tomorrow’s Health over a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, lab testing has been a very important tool in slowing down the spread of this terrible virus. However, it is important to know that there are big differences between the various lab tests that are available right now. The most common types of lab tests include the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and the rapid antigen test.

Though it is important to get a test result as quickly as possible, it is even more important to get an accurate result. The rapid antigen test can be turned around rapidly, but the PCR test has proven to be much more accurate. The below table compares the speed and accuracy of the PCR and antigen tests currently available.

Covid-19 Test Type Time to Result Accuracy
Rapid Antigen 15-30 Minutes Sensitivity: 60%

Specificity: >95%

*Overall Accuracy: ~80%

PCR 1-7 days Sensitivity: >90%

Specificity: >95%

Overall Accuracy: ~95%

PCR at Tomorrow’s Health 0-1 day (same day or next day) Sensitivity: >90%

Specificity: >95%

Overall Accuracy: ~95%

*Early studies surrounding the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus show that accuracy of the rapid antigen test is significantly lower (~50-60%), while PCR testing is largely unaffected

Q: How accurate is the PCR test that Tomorrow’s Health uses?

Q: Why does it take longer to get PCR test results? 

Q: What is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing?

Q: What do “sensitivity” and “specificity” mean?

Q: Why is the rapid antigen test less accurate than the PCR test?

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