What is the difference between a PCR test and an antigen test?

In order to be able to go on holiday abroad this summer, you need a negative PCR test or antigen test for many countries. What are these tests? And what is the difference between those two tests?

In a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a swab of mucus is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab. This mucus goes to a lab to see if the virus is present in the mucus. The PCR test has a high sensitivity. This means that this test also picks up the virus in someone who carries a little virus. This test is considered the most reliable among the tests and is also used to investigate the reliability of new tests.

Although this test is the most reliable, it is still possible that the test gives an incorrect result. For example, it may be that you test too early after an infection. The test result is negative because it can take a few days before enough virus is present in the cells of your nose and throat.

Antigen test

The antigen test is also popularly referred to as a rapid test. This test shows certain proteins of the virus in nasal and/or throat mucus. This way you quickly know whether you carry the virus with you. The advantage of an antigen test is that you get the result faster, but a disadvantage is that this test is less sensitive than a PCR test. The antigen test is often negative, especially if few virus particles are present.

In order to be able to go on holiday abroad this summer, you need a negative PCR test or antigen test for many countries. What are these tests? And what is the difference between those two tests?

In a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a swab of mucus is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab. This mucus goes to a lab to see if the virus is present in the mucus. The PCR test has a high sensitivity. This means that this test also picks up the virus in someone who carries a little virus. This test is considered the most reliable among the tests and is also used to investigate the reliability of new tests.

Although this test is the most reliable, it is still possible that the test gives an incorrect result. For example, it may be that you test too early after an infection. The test result is negative because it can take a few days before enough virus is present in the cells of your nose and throat.

Antigen test

The antigen test is also popularly referred to as a rapid test. This test shows certain proteins of the virus in nasal and/or throat mucus. This way you quickly know whether you carry the virus with you. The advantage of an antigen test is that you get the result faster, but a disadvantage is that this test is less sensitive than a PCR test. The antigen test is often negative, especially if few virus particles are present.

Whether you need the results of an antigen test or a PCR test depends on your travel destination. You can find out what kind of corona proof you need on the website of the central government.

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