|Test category||Primary clinical use||Specimen type||Performance characteristics||Comments|
|NAATs (including RT-PCR)||Diagnosis of current infection||Respiratory tract specimens*|| || |
|Serology (antibody detection)||Diagnosis of prior infection (or infection of at least 3 to 4 weeks' duration)||Blood|| || |
|Antigen tests||Diagnosis of current infection||Nasopharyngeal or nasal swabs|| || |
COVID-19: coronavirus disease 2019; NAAT: nucleic acid amplification test; RT-PCR: reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; IgG: immunoglobulin G; CDC: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
* Nasopharyngeal swabs, nasal swabs (from the midturbinate area or from both anterior nares), nasal or nasopharyngeal washes, oropharyngeal swabs, and saliva are recommended by the CDC. The Infectious Diseases Society of America suggests a nasopharyngeal swab, a midturbinate swab, an anterior nasal swab, saliva, or a combined anterior nasal/oropharyngeal swab rather than an oropharyngeal swab. Nasal swabs can be self-collected by the patient on-site or at home. Midturbinate swabs and saliva can be collected by the patient while supervised. Lower respiratory tract specimens can be collected in hospitalized patients with suspected lower respiratory tract infection if an upper respiratory tract specimen tests negative.
¶ A single positive test generally confirms the diagnosis. If initial testing is negative and clinical suspicion remains, performing a second test can enhance diagnostic yield.Δ Low-complexity rapid tests can be performed at the point of care and provide results in less than 1 hour. Most moderate- to high-complexity laboratory-based tests result in several hours. However, the time for a clinician or patient to receive a result depends on how frequently the test is run and other processing factors.
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