COVID Testing: How it Works

COVID Testing: How it Works

Testing for COVID is one of the most effective measures to stop the spread of the virus.

COVID testing is also efficient and necessary to monitor the severity of symptoms, the recovery process, and the survival rate of infected individuals.

In this article, we will explain further about COVID testing: how it works, types of tests available, qualifications to get tested, and more.

Who Can Get Tested? 

Most people are likely to have mild illness and recover at home without needing medical attention. Therefore, according to the CDC guidelines, not everyone with COVID-19 needs to be tested.

The state, local health departments, and healthcare providers decide who needs to get tested for Coronavirus. Whether you get tested or not, you must notify a healthcare provider about your symptoms and the development of your recovery.

People with priority to get tested due to being at high risk of developing severe illness are:

  • Older adults.
  • People with underlying medical conditions -- — heart conditions, lung conditions, liver disease, diabetes, among others.

Types of COVID Tests

There are two types of tests for COVID-19: antibody tests and viral tests. 

Viral Tests

Viral tests — also known as diagnostic tests — are used to determine if you currently have an active infection of COVID.

Types of Viral Tests

There are two main types of viral tests: molecular test and antigen test.

  • Molecular test. This viral test provides highly accurate results. The results can be ready the same day — depending on your location — or take about seven days.
  • Antigen test. It is also known as a rapid diagnostic test. However, there are molecular tests that also work as rapid tests. In contrast to molecular tests, the results of antigen tests have a higher rate of showing inaccurate results. Therefore, people may need to retake the antigen test to confirm the accuracy of their results. The test results can be ready in one hour or less.


For a viral test — either molecular or antigen tests — a healthcare provider will need to obtain a biological sample from your respiratory system. Here is what you may expect:

  1. A healthcare provider will place an order for a COVID-19 test.
  2. With a specialized swab, a sample of mucus is collected from your throat or nose. This procedure is usually done by a healthcare professional at a medical facility, but you’ll have to do it yourself if you got assigned a prescribed home collection kit.
  3. The swab will be saved in a sterile container and transported into a lab.
  4. For accurate results, the lab needs to receive the sample within 72 hours after collection. The sample must be kept at a certain temperature, so make sure to follow any indications from healthcare professionals until delivering the sample to the lab.

Antibody Test

An antibody test checks for antibodies — proteins that help our bodies to fight pathogens, such as viruses or bacterias — in your blood. This test detects if you had a past COVID-19 infection.


  1. A healthcare provider will collect a blood sample to be analyzed in a lab.
  2. Results may be ready in 1 to 3 days. 

Why can’t an antibody test diagnose current infections?

When someone gets sick with COVID-19, their body starts making antibodies around 1 to 3 weeks AFTER they were infected. Therefore, if you use an antibody test before this time-lapse, the test may not detect the infection.

If you suspect to be sick with COVID-19 or any other illness, please contact BASS Urgent Care today. Our healthcare providers will assist you through our Urgent Care Online portal. We are here to help.