There are two primary options for COVID-19 testing: PCR tests and rapid antigen tests.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test (NAAT is an alternative name)
- Most accurate test currently available
- Typically administered by health providers at a clinic or pharmacy and analyzed in a laboratory
- Results typically in 24-72 hours
Rapid Antigen Test
- Less accurate than PCR tests
- Results in as little as 15 minutes
- Can be administered by a healthcare provider at a testing site, or self-administered with an at-home testing kit (at-home test, self-test, and over-the-counter test are alternative names)
A third test, known as an antibody test, can help indicate whether you have had COVID-19 in the past. Antibody tests are used by researchers to better understand the virus, but they are not used to determine whether you currently have an infection.
Updated November 9, 2023