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