COVID-19 Test Basics | FDA


collage with three photos showing woman being tested for the coronavirus with a nasal swab, lab scientist wearing full personal protective gear preparing test sample with pipet, and a 3D illustration of the coronavirus

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COVID-19 testing plays a critical position in the combat towards the virus. Knowing COVID-19 tests, together with the distinctive styles of assessments and their employs, and the sorts of samples the tests use, is critical to building an informed selection that satisfies your desires.

Kinds of Exams

There are distinct types of COVID-19 checks – diagnostic tests and antibody exams.

Diagnostic exams can demonstrate if you presently are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that triggers COVID-19. There are two sorts of COVID-19 diagnostic tests:

Samples for COVID-19 diagnostic checks are normally gathered employing an anterior nares (nasal) swab sample. Some diagnostic checks use mid-turbinate, nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, or saliva samples. COVID-19 diagnostic assessments can be executed at a laboratory, a standalone testing website, a doctor’s place of work or wellness clinic, or at home. For some COVID-19 diagnostic tests, you go to a tests website to have your sample gathered and for other people you can gather your possess sample at dwelling applying a residence selection package and mail it to a laboratory for tests. Other tests can be carried out fully at house, offering you outcomes within minutes, devoid of needing to send your sample to a laboratory.  

If you feel you require a COVID-19 diagnostic test, you can uncover a group screening web site in your condition. You can also use an Food and drug administration-licensed at-house COVID-19 diagnostic exam which presents you the possibility of self-screening exactly where it is handy for you. Be mindful that COVID-19 diagnostic checks are authorized for specific employs. For case in point, some assessments can be made use of by men and women with and devoid of signs or symptoms and other checks are only for folks with symptoms. Also, laboratory-based mostly checks, this sort of as PCR tests, are normally extra correct than at-home assessments. 

For information about every single approved COVID-19 diagnostic exam, see the lists of approved Molecular Diagnostic Exams and Antigen Diagnostic Exams, as very well as the At-House COVID-19 Diagnostic Checks webpage. Applying the search box in the EUA tables, you can use key terms to search and filter the sort of test or selection kit you are looking for. As new tests are approved for use, they are included to these tables so that everyone can accessibility up-to-day information on all licensed assessments and collection kits.

Antibody (or serology) tests glimpse for antibodies in your blood that your immune system manufactured in response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody exams must not be employed to diagnose a current SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19 and, at this time, ought to also not be employed to check for immunity. A lot more research is essential to identify what, if everything, antibody checks can inform us about a person’s immunity. 

Samples for antibody checks are generally collected by a doctor or other health care experienced by using blood from a finger adhere or your vein. For additional facts about antibody testing, check out Antibody (Serology) Tests for COVID-19: Info for Individuals and Buyers.

Forms of Samples

Unique exams are licensed to be applied with different varieties of samples. The most popular sample kinds are:

COVID-19 swab sample locations: Anterior Nares, Mid-turbinate, Nasopharyngeal, and Oropharyngeal

Swab samples use a swab (related to a long Q-Tip) to obtain a sample from the nose or throat. The varieties of samples include:

  • Anterior Nares (Nasal) – takes a sample from just inside of the nostrils
  • Mid-turbinate – will take a sample from additional up inside of the nose
  • Nasopharyngeal – takes a sample from deep within the nose, reaching the back again of the throat, and must only be gathered by a skilled wellbeing treatment company
  • Oropharyngeal – usually takes a sample from the center element of the throat (pharynx) just over and above the mouth, and should really only be collected by a trained well being care provider

Saliva samples are collected by spitting into a tube somewhat than employing a nose or throat swab.

Blood samples are only utilized to check for antibodies and not to diagnose COVID-19. Venous blood samples are generally collected at a doctor’s place of work or clinic. Some antibody assessments use blood samples from a finger stick.

Report Adverse Functions

The Food and drug administration encourages well being care professionals and individuals to report adverse occasions or facet effects as nicely as general performance troubles linked to the use of COVID-19 assessments or other health-related solutions to the FDA’s MedWatch Basic safety Facts and Adverse Celebration Reporting System:

  • Comprehensive and submit the report on the internet as a result of the FDA’s MedWatch internet site.
  • Download the sort or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a type, then entire and return to the address on the sort or post by fax to 1-800-Fda-0178.