Difference Between PCR and Antigen Test for Covid in UAE

As we continue to live in the Coronavirus pandemic, newer technologies have been developed to detect and treat Covid. In various areas around the world, like the UAE, effective methods are being developed to detect the infection of COVID-19.

While there are several ways to test for covid, let’s discuss two of the most frequently used testing methods;

  • PCR
  • Antigen tests are being used in the UAE.

What is the PCR Test?

What is PCR test? - a girl having PCR test

PCR test is the one that we have been hearing about from the very start of the pandemic. Short for “Polymerase Chain Reaction,” this test is done by taking a sample of the person from the pharynx using a small, slim cotton bud.

This cotton bud is passed through the nasal passages and the mouth. The results of this test are known after several hours of the sample being taken.

Moreover, the PCR test is known to have the highest percentage of sensitivity and reliability. This test is used as the standard test for covid testing in the UAE.

The PCR test is also one of the most widely requested tests for traveling because of its high reliability in telling whether one is infected with the Covid-19 virus or not.

Read More: Where to get free PCR tests in Dubai?

What is the Antigen Test?

What is Antigen test? - antigen test for covidAlternatively, the antigen test is very useful when the infected person has reached the highest stage of the infection when they are most contagious.

This test works by detecting the presence of antigens, a protein that is located on the virus’s surface. This test is conducted similar to the PCR test through the nose.

The main difference here, although, is that the results of this test are available almost 15 – 20 minutes after being done. Nevertheless, this test has lower reliability and sensitivity than the PCR test.

What’s the Difference Between PCR and the Antigen Test?

While the method of collecting the sample is almost the same in both cases, several differences are present between both the tests. These differences are given below.

  1. The antigen test works by detecting the presence of antibodies produced by Covid-19. On the other hand, the PCR test works by conducting a real-time assessment to detect SARS-COV-2 RNA or genetic material.
  2. While the PCR test results are available after a few hours of conducting the test, the results from the antigen tests are available as early as 15-20 mins after the test has been completed.
  3. The PCR test has a higher sensitivity and reliability in contrast to the antigen test.
  4. The PCR test is more commonly used for traveling purposes. It is also the standard test being used in the UAE for Covid-19 detection.

Want to get the cheapest PCR in Dubai? Read here how to get one.

So, now you know the difference between PCR and antigen tests for COVID-19. Because of the reliability and sensitivity, the PCR test is more commonly used.

Although there are quite differences between both tests, there is one crucial similarity that you should know. That is, the sample is collected from the nose by sending a nasal swab.

You can read the symptoms and precautions of Covid in order to avoid Covid-19.

Hugo F. Martineau

Hugo F. Martineau is a medical student in Dubai, UAE. He loves to research and write content. When he's not in the library or the lab, Hugo enjoys spending time with his friends and family. He also likes to play sports, especially basketball. Hugo is originally from Haiti, and he is grateful for every opportunity that he has been given.

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