With all the changing regulations and newly developed technology that is emerging to meet the needs in health care it can be hard to keep up with what all the new dialogue means! For example a rapid COVID test is often the term used to describe any lab test that will produce your result in less 24 hours and some people will use the term for a PCR (see Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test) that is processed within 24 hours; however a Rapid Test is significantly different from a PCR test. We have put together a short list explaining the current terms to help everyone follow along:

Antibody – an antibody (AKA immunoglobulin) is a protein produced by the body (B-Cells) in response to an antigen (a protein on a pathogen). They neutralize the pathogen to stop it from causing disease

Antigen Rapid Test (ART) – see Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Lateral Flow Device – see Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Lateral Flow Immunoassays – see Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Rapid Antibody Test – a test completed on whole blood, serum or plasma (a blood sample) to determine if there are antibodies present. This determines if the person whose blood is tested has immunity to the SARS CoV – 2 virus. This can be from post infection immunity (commonly known as natural or acquired immunity) or from a vaccine induced immune response

Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT) – see Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Rapid Antigen Test  (RAT) – an antigen is a protein on a pathogen; the tests used for COVID are developed to detect the presence of the SARS CoV – 2  viral proteins/antigens. The result for this test take 15 minutes

Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) – see Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)

Rapid Tests – Any test where you get your result in less than 24 hours; i.e. a Rapid Antigen Test produces results in 15 minutes, or a PCR test that is processed in under 24 hours rather than 48 hours

Pathogen – a microorganism that can cause disease

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test – detects genetic material from a specific organism; in the case of COVID it detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. PCR technology amplifies the small samples of viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) by replicating it until it is detectable. This is why there are varied cycles (Alberta Precision Labs suggests 10 -35 cycles) used to detect different specimens; samples that contain less viral RNA would require higher cycles to replicate enough to detect the RNA