It’s been two years since the coronavirus breakout, and people are still suffering from its aftereffects. Whether medical, financial or tourism, every sector has been affected by this virus. The virus is still mutating, and new variants are seen worldwide every month. A pcr test for travel has become imperative, and there’s no other option other than delay your trip and stay back if you are tested positive.
Because of this pandemic, it has become much more challenging to travel to other countries, sometimes even within your own country. The new variants will keep popping up now and then, and the only way to get permission to travel is by getting a PCR test result showing a negative impact.
After this became mandatory, people needed to get the negative test result to obtain permission to travel. The result is valid for a few days (depending on the airlines and country). You need to make the travel within the validity period of the test result.
So, you need a pcr test for travel. But, what is a PCR test, and how accurate is it?
What is a PCR test?
A PCR test detects SARS-CoV-2 virus genetic material, which is the cause of Coronavirus, from the initial stages of infection. It is the most error-free test available, and travel agencies/airlines recommend or permit you to travel. Depending on the laboratory’s capacity and technology, the test will give you the result within a few hours or half a day.
How is the PCR test different from the Antigen test? How effective are they?
These tests are the most effective and accurate ones available for the citizens to test for Coronavirus. These test results are accepted by most of the institutions, airlines and several other places a person would visit.
PCR and antigen tests are the most accepted, but they work differently.
Antigen tests usually look for the presence of a particular protein on the virus’s surface to determine the presence of the pathogen. The polymerase chain reaction test or PCR test is developed to search genetic materials known as RNA that controls the virus and makes these proteins.
Both tests require a swab sample from the back of your throat or nostrils. These tests cannot determine whether you are contagious if positive, and here is where the similarities stop.
In PCR tests, the sample is sent to the laboratory equipped with devices to run a heating and cooling method using special reagents to turn the virus’s RNA into DNA. The next step is to make millions of copies of the DNA that helps identify the organism. This process takes hours, needs special laboratory equipment and professionals, and is usually done one sample at a time. There are pieces of equipment that can test multiple samples, but only available in big laboratories.
This method gives approximately 100% accurate results, and that’s why everyone prefers this test.
When it comes to the antigen tests—which is also known as the rapid test—it is done by mixing the sample in a solution that releases specific viral proteins. This combination is then put on a paper strip containing a particular antibody customized to bind these proteins if they are present. It is more like a home pregnancy test, so these test kits are available in some places.
This process doesn’t require a laboratory and is completed within 30 minutes, but the quick results come at the cost of sensitivity. These tests are reliable when the person has a high viral load; as the load decreases in an individual, the accuracy of the test also decreases.
That’s why the PCR test is favoured by the people, institutions, and airlines.