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

Summary

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:

  • Contact your health care provider.
  • Check your state or local health department's website for information on testing in your area.
  • 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).
  • Order free self-tests from COVIDtests.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.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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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.