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How Long Does a rt-PCR Test Take?

June 27, 2022

How Long Does a rt-PCR Test Take?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, many habits that weren’t previously part of our daily lives have become commonplace. Wearing a face mask, quarantining, and routinely getting PCR or antigen tests have become standard daily procedures.

With a negative Covid-19 test required for entry into certain venues, for travel, or for general public health safety purposes, waiting for a PCR test can be a nail-biting experience. While there is always room for error, PCR tests are one of the most reliable types of tests to accurately determine if you have Covid-19 or not.

Keep reading for everything you might want to know about how long a PCR test takes and what you need to know about the process.

What Is an rt-PCR Test?

rt-PCR stands for a reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, a test designed to detect the presence of specific genetic material, like viruses. These tests are relatively sensitive, as they can detect the presence of a virus at the time of taking the test and the residue of a virus – even if you aren’t contagious anymore.

Is an rt-PCR Test a Molecular Test?

Yes, the RT-PCR tests we offer (nasal and sputum or saliva) are performed by nucleic acid amplification. NAAT stands for Nucleac Acid Amplification Test. A PCR test is a type of NAAT test. Therefore, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) PCR test that we offer is accepted in locations that require a NAAT COVID-19 test.

What Is the rt-PCR Test for COVID-19?

With the coronavirus specifically, the rt-PCR test is an accurate and reliable measurement of whether someone has the SARS-CoV-2 virus in their body. It has been the standard test since it was approved for use in February 2020. The Covid-19 test results remain a reasonably rapid, accurate marker of whether someone has the Covid-19 infection.

As previously mentioned, a rt-PCR test is used to detect the presence of genetic material, unlike the antibody test that looks for specific proteins. The PCR test is the gold standard. You may test positive if you are infected with Covid-19 or if you have fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your system, even if you aren’t infected anymore and don’t have symptoms of Covid-19. 

Because of the test’s sensitivity, it’s best to take the test with an adequate amount of time before you do anything that requires a negative test, in case you need to retest due to positive results. 

How Does a PCR Test Work? 

If you have taken a Covid-19 PCR test, you are likely familiar with the process; it’s accurate, albeit uncomfortable. The test is conducted at a testing site. While there, you will receive a testing kit that includes what you need for the test. 

A healthcare professional will use a nasal swab, where respiratory material is collected on a sterile swab via the nostril, sealed, and sent to a lab for analysis. While this stage is slightly uncomfortable, it is harmless and briefly causes mild discomfort. 

For self-tests, follow the advice of healthcare providers and don’t insert the swab too far or too shallow in your nasal cavity. Remember, if you don’t place the swab far enough up your nasal cavity, you may get inaccurate results. You may also want to ensure that you’re not sticking the PCR swab too far up your nose, which can cause damage and further discomfort. 

Timeline of a PCR Test

At The I.V. Doc, your PCR test is a priority, as is your experience taking the test and waiting for results. From start to finish, you will work closely with a team of medical professionals to monitor your test status, explain a negative or positive test result, and suggest any additional care that could benefit you.

We offer individual and group testing in addition to testing for children, rapid tests, and tests abroad required for US entry. With same-day scheduling and same day reporting, you can book an individual or group PCR test online. 

Within the day, one of our registered professional nurses will visit you in the privacy of your home or office to administer the Covid-19 PCR test. PCR Results can be provided in as soon as an hour (if a rush service is selected).

We use the anterior nasal swab test for the highest level of accuracy since saliva tests can often become contaminated with food particles. These food contaminants can lead to inconclusive readings, which can delay your ability to travel, visit family, or attend an event that requires a negative test reading.

What To Do While You Wait for Your Results

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, waiting for your PCR results might also come with the uncomfortable, flu-like symptoms of Covid. While you await your results, prioritize rest and taking care of yourself. 

Suppose you are experiencing significant flu-like symptoms due to Covid-19. In that case, Rescue IV Hydration can help you deal with head and neck tension, dehydration, nausea, and other symptoms that might cause discomfort.

What’s the Difference Between a Positive and Negative Test?

When it comes time to receive your results from a PCR test, you will be notified that your results are ready and can view them. Though the difference between a positive and negative test result might seem obvious, there is some nuance regarding how to interpret test results.

A positive PCR test means you are likely infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and should move accordingly. If you don’t have any symptoms, you may be asymptomatic. If you are experiencing symptoms, prioritize getting rest and staying hydrated.

Because the PCR tests for the presence of viral genetic material, you may get a positive test back even if you aren’t infected any more but have virus fragments in your body. A second test may help determine whether you are infected or not.

A negative PCR test means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detected. This does not mean that you don’t have Covid-19, but just that the virus was not detected.

Again, a second test can be taken for additional security. You may test negative, even if you are infected with Covid-19, if you have recently been infected but aren’t yet exhibiting symptoms.

The Bottom Line 

If you’re looking for a rapid, in-home testing experience, then The I.V. Doc has a solution. With same-day scheduling, registered professional nurses, and a primary care physician assigned to you to walk you through the process, getting a PCR test couldn’t be easier.

At The I.V. Doc, we offer full-service PCR testing with same-day scheduling for scheduling convenience and rapid same day results so that you can get clarity faster. Not only that, but our PCR testing is done discreetly in the comfort of your home, office, or hotel room, making it an effortless process to test for Covid-19.

There’s no need to wait in long lines or be on hold while waiting for test results. If you’re feeling under the weather or need a negative test for travel, why not make your life easier? Simply schedule your PCR test with The I.V. Doc online, take your same-day test, and wait for the results.



PCR Test for COVID-19: What It Is, How Its Done, What The Results Mean

How to Collect an Anterior Nasal Swab Specimen for COVID-19 Testing | CDC


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