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How Covid-19 Tests Work

Sushil Singh | 16 December, 2020

            Covid-19 Care Home Test Kit Collection

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged our world and our nation in particular. As of the time of writing, there are more than 16 million cases and just under 300 deaths in the United States alone. Businesses have shut down, children everywhere are attending school online, and large group events have been rescheduled or canceled. According to medical professionals, testing and contact tracing is an effective way to track and control this disease. Knowledge is power, and if more infected people are aware of their own infection status, they can do a better job of self-isolating and preventing the further spread of this disease.


If you have not yet taken a COVID-19 RT PCR Test, it can seem intimidating. Below, we offer an overview of how these tests work with the goal of reducing anxiety and encouraging more people to participate in testing. The more we test, the more we know, and the better we can protect ourselves. 

How COVID-19 Tests Work: 

  • The COVID-19 diagnostic test can determine whether you have an active coronavirus infection. Both Nasopharyngeal and saliva tests are available.
  • If you are receiving a nasopharyngeal test, a cotton swab will be inserted up into your nose and then swirled around in order to collect material from the part of the throat behind your nose.
  • If you are receiving the saliva test, you spit in a tube to collect your saliva.
  • Your biological sample is then sent to the lab for testing and delivers a result based on whether the virus is present or not.
  • As the test subject, you are not privy to the reagent process. Rather, you will volunteer a biological sample and will then be notified as to whether or not you have the virus. 

From a test subject’s perspective, testing is relatively simple. If you suspect that you have COVID-19 it is important to get a test right away, and then self-isolate until the results come in. Remember that this virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets. We all shed respiratory droplets when we breathe, speak, cough, and sneeze, so if you suspect you are ill it is safest to stay in your own home. Masks are effective at reducing the spread of the disease, but the best way to ensure that you do not infect anyone else is to simply stay at home alone. 

If you receive a positive result from your COVID 19 RT PCR Test, continue to self-isolate, and also make a list of people you have interacted with over the past several weeks. Inform them of your positive result and urge them to get tested themselves. Through knowledge and increased availability of testing, we can all help to turn the corner on this deadly disease.