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What’s the difference between a PCR and a Rapid Antigen (lateral flow) test?

PCR tests 

Polymerase Chain Reaction tests are used to directly screen for the presence of COVID-19 before antibodies form. This means they can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on. These tests MUST be sent to a lab for diagnosis and are one of the most accurate tests available. 


Rapid Antigen (lateral flow) tests
 

Antigen (rapid flow) tests are used to directly screen for the presence of COVID-19, but are less accurate when detecting the disease early on, before symptoms occur. These tests are taken at home and provide results automatically within 15 to 30 minutes.