testing-during-omicron

The scariest thing about the latest coronavirus variant is how quickly and easily transmissible it is. By Christmas of this past year (2021), Omicron had been detected in most states and territories in the U.S., and it was already documented then as the cause behind rapid increases in the spread of COVID-19. It was also known to spread far more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is why a lot of places have either tightened up restrictions or begun to mandate people wear medical grade masks rather than cloth masks. The reinstation, and in some cases amplification, of restrictions has come despite the number of people who have received their first, second, and even third doses of the vaccine.

While “vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce likelihood of new variants emerging” (CDC), it remains to be studied how well the vaccine can protect individuals against the new Omicron variant, and it is known that even those who have been vaccinated can get and spread the virus to others—even if they don’t have symptoms. The vaccine is “highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death” (CDC), but it should not be the only course of action individuals take against the spread of the virus. It should be the first layer of defense, to be used in combination with the second layer—following recommended safety precautions, like social distancing, wearing masks, isolating when experiencing symptoms—and the third layer of defense—getting tested to ensure you are not spreading the virus.

Which type of test should you get—PCR or rapid?

It is scientifically proven that the PCR test is the best test when it comes to accurately determining if you have COVID-19; however, each of the tests has its own pros and cons that may make it more or less suitable to your specific circumstances. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision about which test you should take.

PCR tests

Pros:

  Most specific, sensitive, and accurate

•  Uses nasal pharyngeal swabs, which are most accurate because there is a higher concentration of virus in this area

Cons:

  Take a minimum of 48 hours and up to a few days to get the results back

•  Can feel moderately invasive and uncomfortable

PCR tests are the best bet for accuracy, but if you need immediate results or need an option that is less invasive than the nasal swab, you may need a different option.

Rapid Antigen tests

Pros:

•  Fastest; results in as little as 15 minutes

•  Highly sensitive for positive results

•  Uses nasal swab technique, which is less invasive and less uncomfortable; may encourage more people to get tested

  Can be taken at home as a self-test

Cons:

  Less reliable for negative tests than PCR

  Less accurate than PCR

  Less effective later in the stages of illness

Rapid antigen tests are a good option if you need your results quickly or want to test yourself from home because you think you may have a symptom or that you may have been exposed. For the most accuracy, it is best to have your results verified by a PCR test when possible.

Where Can I Get Tested for Omicron?

Whether you need a rapid antigen test, a PCR test, or even an antibody test, Olympus Health & Performance is your best option Utah coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. Contact our team today if you are in the Salt Lake and Park City regions and want to be sure you haven’t contracted the Omicron variant. It’s the best way to stop the spread.