The difference between the PCR and antigen COVID tests

What do these tests mean?
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:30 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - If you ever wondered about the difference between the antigen and the PCR tests for COVID and which one works best, here’s the answer.

“It basically boils down to the sensitivity and the specificity of the test,” Samantha Beard, pharmacist at Harvest Drug & Gift, said.

Beard explained the difference between two COVID tests, an antigen test and the polymerase chain reaction or PCR test. She first said why the PCR test is the best test to get.

“The PCR test is the most accurate test that you can get that’s available on the market. It’s more specific and more sensitive than the antigen test, meaning that the chances of you getting a positive result when you’re positive and not getting a negative result or getting a positive test when you’re actually negative is the lowest probability of that,” Beard said.

She said if you’re looking for a simple yes or no, the PCR test is the way to go.

“It’s just simply whether you are positive or negative,” Beard explained.

Beard said Harvest Drug and Gift, like other COVID testing sites, are experiencing days where they’re fully booked, but two people shared their experiences.

“I had to fill out an information sheet online. Then, I had to wait for a nurse practitioner to call me before they would let me get a test, so it took a little bit longer. It wasn’t user friendly at first but the results were quick,” Tonya Canney, a Wichita Falls resident, said.

“Went up there, first in line, just drove right up there, come out to the car, took the test, it was done right away. They called me later on that evening and told me what it read, it’s negative,” Gary Erskine, a Henrietta resident, said.

If you think you need a test, Beard said don’t hesitate.

“If you have any of the lists of symptoms, either you have one or 10, then that would mean it would be a good idea to get tested,” Beard said.

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