URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/covid19testing.html

COVID-19 Testing

Also called: COVID-19 Antibody Test, COVID-19 Viral Test, SARS-CoV-2 Testing


COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. There are two types of tests for this virus:

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. Viral tests can either be rapid tests or laboratory tests:
    • Rapid tests can be done in minutes. They are often antigen tests, which look for specific proteins from the virus. Some rapid tests are self-tests which you can do at home.
    • Laboratory tests can take days to complete and include PCR tests.
  • An antibody (serology) test might tell you if you had a past infection.

If you need a COVID-19 test, you can:

  • Buy a self-test online or at a store. Make sure that the test you buy has been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you have health insurance from your employer or through the Health Insurance Marketplace , your insurance company will pay you back for eight at-home tests each month. Check with your insurance company for details.
  • Check your state or local health department's website for information on testing in your area.
  • Contact your health care provider.
  • Order free self-tests from COVID.gov for your household, if you live in the U.S. The tests are from the U.S. government.

Even if your COVID-19 viral test is negative (the test did not detect the virus), you should still take steps to protect yourself and others.

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.