Testing for COVID: PCR vs Serology

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There has been some confusion over the different tests used to confirm a positive case of COVID-19.

The two most common tests are the PCR and serology tests.

The PCR test is used by the Department of Public Health and Social Services to confirm a case of COVID-19. It actually detects the presence of the coronavirus.

The other method is called a serology test, which only detects the presence of the antibodies that form to fight the disease.

Guam Memorial Hospital administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas spoke to PNC about the difference between the two.

“A serology test is testing for the antibodies meaning the antibodies that your body generates from an infection, which is the COVID. So that’s what’s its showing, the anti-body level, the Selex. The PCR … it tests the actual virus in the individual’s system that shows if there is active infection,” Posadas said.

GMH does not use the PCR test, said Posadas. It takes about a day to get the results, she said.

Instead, GMH uses the Abbott ID to detect the virus, like the OPCR test. But it is much quicker. The results are available in 15 to 30 minutes.

Earlier concerns about Abbott ID’s accuracy have been resolved, said Posadas. “it’s very reliable,” she said.

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