What is the difference between RT-PCR and ANTIGEN TEST?

RT-PCR test

Detects the presence of viral RNA. It is very accurate and efficient. This test is able to detect a COVID-19 infection even before the person becomes infectious and will allow early isolation. Thus, this method is able to prevent the transmission of the virus to other hosts.

The disadvantages are the financial cost compared to the antigen tests, the longer evaluation time, and the need for highly professional staff for sample handling.

Rapid Antigen test

Detects viral proteins. The rapid antigen test reveals patients at the peak of the infection when the body has the highest concentration of these proteins.

The disadvantage is that they are not as sensitive (accurate) as the standard RT-PCR tests used to accurately identify those infected. When using them, a significant percentage of those infected pass the test as a false negative. In a few days, these people will spread the virus among others, thinking they are healthy.

Their advantage is the price, the result within 30 minutes and lower demands on the expertise of the staff.

If you are being tested with the Rapid Antigen test, you are NOT guaranteed to be uninfected at the time of taking the test.

The abbreviation POC, which sometimes stands before the terms “antigenic test”, means "point of care" (sometimes also POCT - "point of care testing"). A POC antigen test is an antigen test that has been performed at a point of care or another site that is licensed to do so. If the abbreviation POC does not occur before the “test” term, then these tests are, for example, self-tests, which can be purchased at the pharmacy and which are not performed by professional staff.

Antibody test

This test measures antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the bodies of people who have already had COVID-19 or are successfully recovering from the disease. Antibodies are not present at the onset of the disease.