The difference between PCR, Antigen, and Antibody tests.

During the past year, the entire world had the experience to operate during the pandemic. The “Covid-19” that struck the health care systems at its early stage has eventually become a global economic challenge. Apparently, we can’t simply “lock down” everything; instead, we will have to search for ways that will keep the economy running, while suppressing the pandemic.

Our article will give you a simple explanation for each of them.

Diagnostic and screening tests are intended for the COVID-19. Diagnostic PCR and Antigen tests look for the genetic sequence/ the RNA of the coronavirus.


PCR tests verify the existence of COVID-19 at an early stage. They are 95% sensitive and, whether the patient has coronavirus symptoms or not, it will show “infected” as long as there is RNA of the virus on the swab. The results are typically ready in a day at best and show two results: positive, negative. PCR tests are accepted by airlines for travel purposes. However, we should keep in mind, that although PCR is a great research tool it is valid only for the present time, so it’s possible to come down with the infection later.

PCR Testing procedure

  • The patient sits on a chair with their head put slightly back
  • The sample is taken from the patient’s nose and throat by rotating the swab
  • The sample is collected within 15 seconds


Detects viral protein fragments.

This test identifies people who are currently infected with the coronavirus. It is used as a quick test to detect active infections and looks for proteins from the virus. It is ideal for workplaces, airports, or just anywhere where it’s needed to do quick and regular check-ups. The antigen is 99.68% sensitive and can detect the virus in 15–30 minutes.

The Antigen Testing procedure is quite similar to PCR, however, it detects the virus from the nose.


The screening antibody tests look for the IgG/IgM antibodies produced in response to the virus.

The antibody test for IgM detects the antibodies produced when the organism is attacked by the virus. If your immune system produces the IgM antibodies, it means that you may still be infected, or you may have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection. The test has so far been shown by the FDA to be 100% sensitive.

The antibody test for IgG detects the antibodies produced by the patient’s immune system 14 days after showing the initial symptoms of COVID-19. If your organism develops IgG antibodies, it shows that you have had the virus and now have immunity against it. However, it’s still unknown how much protection these antibodies provide against reinfection.

Antibody testing procedure

Antibody tests are taken from a drop of blood and the results are typically ready in 15 minutes.

In essence, no test is 100% accurate. Many factors play a role in the accuracies such as the timing of the test, test technology, specimen collection, and the specific characteristics of the test.

To sum up,

PCR tests whether you’re a carrier of the virus or not and detects the virus at an early stage. PCR is accepted by airlines for travel purposes. The results are typically ready for up to 24 hours.
Antigen also tests the presence of the virus at an early stage. In contrast to PCR, it provides quick results in about 15–30 minutes.
The antibody detects the antibodies in your blood, produced by your immune system in response to the virus. The results are ready in 15 minutes.

CoronaTest is an Armenian-based company that integrates COVID-19 tests right from the manufacturers and offers coronavirus testing at home or workplace.