COVID Tests – A guide to the most important tests

What are the COVID-19 tests available in India?

The different types of tests available for COVID-19 are the COVID RT-PCR Test, the COVID Antibody Test, and the COVID Antigen Tests.

  • The tests which are used for diagnosis are the RT-PCR test and the COVID antigen rapid test.
  • The antibody test is used to detect past infection with COVID

Where can you get these tests done?

We do these tests at SRL Dr. Avinash Phadke Labs and we are ICMR approved for the same.
Please click here to book a PCR test.

When should you get the COVID-19 tests done?

For RT-PCR, getting tested around the 3rd or 4th day of Symptoms is the ideal time.
Getting tested too early or too late may give false negative PCR result

Why is COVID-19 testing is important?

Testing helps the authorities to understand who is positive and who is negative by RT-PCR. After this, the patient can either be home isolated or admitted to the hospital if he\she has comorbidities. They can thus TEST, ISOLATE, and TREAT. It is very important to not only take care of yourself if you have COVID but also prevent spread to family members and friends.

Early diagnosis allows for early treatment and prevention of complications.

Can I get tested for COVID-19 without a doctor's prescription?

Yes, according to the new BMC guidelines, anyone who wishes to undergo a COVID-19 test can get the same done. It is important to get tested when you have symptoms. Choosing the right test is very important as well. For a PCR test click here

How reliable are the COVID-19 Tests?

The PCR test is reliable. This means they are both sensitive and specific. There are chances of false negatives if the tests are done too early or too late.

For antibody testing, testing 2 samples 2 weeks apart is also important since the positive predictive value of these tests is not very good. This means it depends on the pre-test probability of the person having COVID and the prevalence of the disease in the community

So, if the patient is symptomatic and if the prevalence of the disease is high, then a positive report can be taken as positive. Otherwise repeating the test is advisable.

The antigen test is highly specific(Means a positive result is definitely positive) but is low on sensitivity. This means that negative antigen results need to be verified by a PCR test.

How does the COVID RT-PCR diagnostic test work? How do I get tested for a current COVID-19 infection?

The PCR test detects the RNA(genetic material) of the virus in your nasopharynx and oropharynx through a Swab.
This swab is collected in a viral transport medium and then transported to the lab.
In the lab, the RNA is separated from your sample first.

After this is done, the RNA is amplified tens of thousands of times and then detected.

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A positive result is when the threshold is crossed. This is called the cycle threshold or the Ct value. These are indirect markers of viral loads. The lower is the Ct value, the higher is the viral load.

This is the best test for a current infection. It is ideal to do it on day 3-5 of the symptoms.

The test results would take around 24 hours to get ready. Click here to get a

What is the COVID antibody test? Is there a benefit of getting the antibody test for COVID?

The antibody tests require a blood sample and it is used to see the response of your immune system to COVID-19 infection. These are not used to diagnose an active infection and is a serological test. It can help the health care system in disease control. These are important from a public health perspective as well

  • There are multiple types of COVID antibody tests

The common ones are the COVID total antibody test, the IgG test, and the IgM test.

What is the COVID Total antibody test?

The total antibody test measures all types of antibodies to COVID-19. It starts to come positive after 14 days of symptoms. It is a good test for screening for antibodies. Some people do the IgG test if they have tested positive for Total antibodies.

For all practical purposes, a COVID total antibody test serves the purpose which is to see whether the person has been exposed to COVID or not.

Antibody tests are not considered to be good for the diagnosis of COVID but can only be used to detect a past infection. Some people do not develop antibodies even after getting infected especially if the infection is mild.

Which COVID test should I do post vaccination?

A spike protein antibody test is the recommended test. Since most vaccines are targeted towards the aspike protein, antibodies to spike protein are important measurement tools. The tests can measure antibodies to spike protein upto 2500. Click here to find out more information.

Post vaccination or Post COVID-19 infection\exposure: Spike protein antibody test is recommended

Post COVID-19 infection\exposure in the past: Antibody to nucleocapsid antigen i.e Total antibody test. The total antibody test is not used to detect antibodies post vaccination

What are the COVID IgG and IgM tests?

The IgM test detects the IgM antibody which starts to rise earlier in the illness while the IgG test detects IgG antibodies which start to increase a few days after IgM

What is a rapid COVID antigen test?

COVID Antigen Test
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A rapid antigen test is done on a nasopharyngeal swab within 15 minutes of sample collection. The sample is mixed with a buffer and put on a card. When 2 lines(Control and test line) are seen then it is positive

If only the control line is seen then it is negative. When the control line is negative but the test line is positive, the test is invalid.

Antigen detection is suitable for point of care settings within hospitals when urgent reports are required. All symptomatic negative patients on antibody testing need to be reconfirmed by RT-PCR testing.

Do asymptomatic people develop antibodies?

Yes, in many cases asymptomatic people are found to have antibodies as well

Does antibody provide immunity against COVID?

It is reasonable to say that they afford immunity for 2-3 months but it is too early to say whether the immunity is complete or whether it will last for how long.

How many days does it take for a COVID-19 test report?

It takes under 24 hours for a PCR test result. The BMC has to approve the release of positive reports so they may be a little delayed
Antibody tests are ready on the same day of sample receipt in the lab

How does COVID affect mental health?

COVID-19 is a huge mental health problem all over the world.
People find it hard to cope with the fear, isolation, and uncertainty. For this reason, we have partnered with to offer their counseling services for all patients and caregivers. please mail them on if you would like to discuss the same.

Who should get tested?

Anyone with symptoms or those who have come in contact with a known positive case can test for COVID-19

How to book the COVID 19 testing ?

You can whatsapp us on 9819938916 or click here. You will be taken to a booking page.

What kind of Sample is needed for Testing ?

COVID-19 PCR test requires a nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab for testing. The technician will collect a swab through your nasal cavity touching the throat and your oral cavity touching the throat. It is a quick, painless process.

What's the sample transportation process?

The sample will be transported to our processing lab at 2-8 degrees Celsius to ensure the viability of viral RNA if present.

How do I access my report?

You will get an SMS with a link to our web portal once your report is ready. You can login with an OTP on this portal.

How do I interpret my report?

Detected: Means Viral RNA is present and is interpreted as Positive

Not Detected: Means Viral RNA is absent and is interpreted as Negative

What is the current recommended method for testing and what kind of samples can be tested?

The current recommended method is a RT-PCR. This method tests for certain regions of the viral RNA and is highly accurate in nature.

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