Several COVID-19 tests available today are being used to return to work, for doctor’s office visits, airline admittance, and party acceptance. But, does that mean that you’re COVID-19 free and safe? What exactly does a COVID-19 negative mean?
“There exists no test that can definitively determine whether someone who caught the coronavirus is still contagious.” said Omai Garner, clinical microbiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles in a New York Times interview.
In the past six months, testing has progressed tremendously. There are variations on the types of test available as well as what each test tries to detect.
The Viral Test - Nasal or Oral
These tests identify active cells of the virus in the body. If the cells are present, you are likely contagious. Until recently lab-based oral fluid testing was more accurate because in the lab, any virus present in the body can be replicated creating a larger testing sample for detection.
In November, accuracy of the instant nasal test improved, rivaling lab-based testing and eliminating the need for additional testing.
The Antibody Test
The antibody test looks for viral remains or matter in the bloodstream produced by the virus accurately determining if you’ve had the virus but it can’t determine when you had it or if you’re still contagious.
If you're asymptomatic after an illness, have quarantined an appropriate amount of time, and ready to get back to work, you can do this test in a doctor’s office or occupational health testing facilities.
Testing is Essential
As winter becomes colder here in Texas, expect more sick people in your workplace, but not all these people will have COVID. The flu is still a very real threat, but it doesn’t require the same treatment or isolation as COVID. Then there’s the common cold and allergies. Know what you are dealing with by taking the right test, at the right time.
Tests available with Workplace Safety Screenings
RAPID POINT OF CARE NASAL SWAB TEST: Ideal for Employment, Workplace, or Travel Based COVID-19 Screening
This is the fastest available point-of-care test used for the detection of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), delivering positive results in as little as fifteen minutes.
LAB BASED ORAL FLUID TEST: Recommended Diagnostic Test for Individuals Showing Signs or Symptoms of COVID-19
This molecular test is looking for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Turnaround time for this test ranges from 12-48 hours depending on numerous variables.
LAB BASED BLOOD ANTIBODY TEST: Detects Potential Immune Response to Suspected COVID-19 Infection
This test can detect IgG antibodies, a marker that indicates development of an immune response in an individual that was previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2.