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How accurate is a COVID-19 test?



The accuracy of testing depends on which method is used to test. The type of specimen and how it is collected can also affect the accuracy along with the duration of the illness. If a specimen collection is not done correctly or if the patient is in an early stage of infection or already partially recovered from the illness this could affect the test.


For laboratory tests, there are two types of accuracy: sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity is the test’s ability to tell when an individual is infected, a test that is very sensitive is less likely to give false-negative results. Specificity is the test’s ability to tell when an individual is not infected, a test that is highly specific is less likely to give false-positive results.


The molecular real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test detects the virus’s genetic material and is the most accurate test. When performed correctly, they are close to 100% accurate in both sensitivity and specificity. The antigen test detects specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They are fast, but less accurate because in general they require test samples to contain large amounts of the virus proteins to yield a positive result. So positive results are almost always correct, but negative results could be questioned.


All COVID-19 tests that are legally available in the United States had to be approved by the FDA to get the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization protocol. The FDA reviews the test along with the accuracy, including sensitivity and specificity.


Our COVID-19 genesig® Real Time PCR assay is more precise than other PCR tests, due to the highly monitored surveillance program we can assure 100% detection when the test is performed correctly. If any mutation occurs we will know immediately. It also can be shipped without a cold chain which makes the shipping process easier and less expensive. Find out even more about our assay by contacting us here.


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