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There Are Three Different COVID Tests—Do You Know What Each Is For?

Be informed!

COVID-19 testing has finally become much more accessible to Filipinos—finally.


It's what has allowed many to return to some semblance of normalcy, businesses to reopen, travel to restart, and most importantly, for people to be able to take the right measures should they learn they're COVID-19-positive. 


But did you know that there isn't just one kind of COVID-19 test used by medical authorities in the Philippines, and that each serve a different purpose?


There are actually three different kinds of tests you can undergo, depending on what you want to find out. Besides COVID-19 tests aren't what we'd call inexpensive and readily available, so to avoid wasting valuable resources and ensuring you get the information you need, make sure you learn about the differences of each and decide which test right for you. 


Read on for everything you need to know!


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THE ANTIGEN TEST

When is it taken? 

The antigen test is taken if you're feeling sick right now, or suspect that you might have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. 

What's the procedure? 

You undergo a nose and/or throat swab test.

 When do you get results? 

Immediately

What are the pros and cons? 

The antigen test yields results almost instantaneously, but it can sacrifice accuracy for speed. The biggest risk here is of course being tagged "negative" (i.e.: COVID-free), when in reality, you do have the disease and can potentially infect others. It's not recommended as first-defense test, or a test whose results you can confidently solely rely on. It's best to supplement it with the RT-PCR test. 


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The Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, a.k.a. the RT-PCR test 


When is it taken? 

The RT-PCR test is taken if you're feeling sick right now, or suspect that you might have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. It's the most common kind of COVID-19 test. 

What's the procedure?

You undergo a nose and/or throat swab test.

When do you get results?

If results can be given quickly, you'll only need to wait a day. Otherwise, give results a one week window and while you wait, self-quarantine just in case to take extra precaution. 

What are the pros and cons? 

Results are not instant, which implies going through collected patient samples is more thorough. Results of this test are promised to be much more accurate (and therefore reliable) in comparison to the antigen test. 


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THE ANTIBODY/SEROLOGY TEST

When is it taken? 

You don't necessarily have to be feeling sick or suspect that you are asymptomatic to take this test. In fact, it only tells us if we've had COVID-19 before. 

What's the procedure?

Instead of a swab, blood samples are needed this time. Medical personnel will either ask you to do a fingerprick test or draw blood from you.

When do you get results?

In a day or two.

What are the pros and cons?

We wouldn't call it a drawback per se, but do remember that the antigen test does not tell you if you are infected with COVID-19 at the time of testing. That's not what it's for, and also, it does not provide any evidence to let you know if you are protected (immune) from infection. All it's meant for is to provide a history of COVID-19, if you've been sick with it before. 


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As a final note, we're also sharing this nifty guide for individuals and families who could discover that they, or a household member, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. It's important to be prepared to care for them (and yourself!) as they go on the road to recovery, so make sure to have this checklist on hand. 


Medicine and supplements to stock up on: 

  • Acetaminophen (for fevers, achy joints, and headaches) 
  • Low-dose aspirin
  • Pepcid
  • Cold medicine (for sinus congestion, sore throat, and cough) 
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3

*Check with your doctor for appropriate dosages 


What to do if one of your main symptoms is shortness of breath: 

  • Keep your room temperature cool
  • Sit upright 
  • Relax shoulders 
  • Practice deep breathing techniques and try your hardest not to get yourself in a state of panic 


What to do if one of your main symptoms is a dry cough: 

  • Hydrate
  • Opt for warm water infused with honey (honey, and not other sweeteners) 
  • Try out steam therapy (fill a basin with warm water and breathe in steam for a few minutes at a time)


Symptoms and conditions that merit a call to your doctor/when an immediate follow-up checkup is necessary: 

  • Severe headaches and/or chest pain
  • A high fever lasting 24 hours or more
  • Bloody sputum 
  • Labored breathing when standing and/or walking short distances



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