WATCH: When is it better to take a rapid antigen versus PCR test?

Jan 14 2022

The first step toward determining if you have COVID-19 is to get tested– whether is through an antigen or a PCR test. The introduction of at-home antigen (rapid) tests offer a new level of convenience, providing results in a matter of minutes. But they can sometimes be difficult to find and are described by many experts as less accurate than PCR tests. PCR tests require visiting a testing site and can take several days to get results.

In a conversation with the PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis, Dr. Payal Patel, an infectious disease physician at the University of Michigan, said that while we may all be eager to know which test is best, the first test you can get your hands on is the best one to take. The priority is getting a result. “Once you have a positive result or a negative result it’s a lot easier to move forward and thinking about, you know, do I need to quarantine or not?” If you begin experiencing symptoms despite a negative test result, it may be worth getting tested again, Patel said.

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