Global Point of Care

All about COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious disease that’s caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important you get tested immediately.

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Recognizing the symptoms

Most people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment1—but some people experience severe COVID-19 symptoms and may be hospitalized.1

  • Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after someone is exposed to the virus.1
  • Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, and may require medical attention.2
  • Some people who are infected may not have symptoms
  • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate based on the latest CDC guidelines.3
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, your healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral treatment.4,5,6
Common symptoms of COVID-192
  • Fever or chills
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches or pains.
  • Feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

COVID-19 complications can be life-threatening

According to the CDC, more than 75% of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 have been among people age 65 and older. And people in this age group comprise over 42% of those who end up in the hospital due to COVID-19.7  

That’s because older adults are more likely to have chronic conditions—like heart disease,  lung disease, diabetes, or obesity—that can put them at increased risk for severe effects from COVID-19.8 In addition, people’s immune systems tend to weaken with age, making it more difficult to fight off infections.9

Know your status. Stop the spread.

Like any virus, COVID-19 is constantly changing or mutating, and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus, like Delta in 2021 and Omicron. Long after the pandemic is over, infectious disease experts predict the virus will continue to circulate the globe, resulting in periodic outbreaks in certain geographies or in seasonal waves, much like the flu.1,2 As a result, having accessible, rapid testing is critical to catching new outbreaks. 

There are wide variety of COVID-19  tests you can take—and you can find them in a wide variety of settings.

Which COVID-19 test should I take?

rapid-icon
Rapid molecular tests (ISOTHERMAL/PCR TECHNOLOGY)

These rapid tests are given by a trained operator in a traditional health care setting, including doctors' offices, urgent care centers, and pharmacies. Point of care tests:

  • Provide high quality results in a matter of minutes
  • Test for COVID-19 and a variety of other respiratory illnesses including flu, RSV and strep throat
  • Allow for timely treatment
  • May help prevent the wrong diagnosis
molecular-icon
Molecular PCR test

Test samples are usually taken by a trained professional in a traditional health care setting, including doctors' offices, urgent care centers, and pharmacies. Molecular PCR tests:

  • Sample types include nasal, nasopharyngeal or throat swabs, usually collected by a clinician
  • Test sample usually sent to a lab or hospital to run on a larger instrument together with higher volumes of patient samples
  • Results are typically available in 1-3 days
binax-icon
Rapid Antigen Self Test

COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are also available over-the-counter at retailers near you. They can provide you fast, reliable results at home—without the need for a prescription. Self-testing kits:

  • Use a simple nasal swab to collect a sample 
  • Can be taken in non-medical settings, like your home, office, or school 
  • Some tests are designed to detect active infection, with or without symptoms
What is the difference between Isothermal and PCR molecular tests? 
A molecular test can find tiny amounts of virus genetic material called RNA and can be more reliable in the early stage of infection when there is less of the virus present. Isothermal and PCR are both molecular tests, but isothermal tests are faster and can provide results in minutes.10, 11

 

Isothermal
PCR

Tests for SARS-CoV-2 RNA

Molecular test

Swab from the nose

Takes less than 15 minutes

 

Whether it’s negative or positive, be sure to discuss your test result with your clinician.

Targeted COVID-19 treatment begins with a quick diagnosis.

There are medications available to treat COVID-19, but they must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective.12 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorizations (EUA) for certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19.12

Because COVID-19 treatment options work best when they are prescribed and used early, rapid testing is essential to ensure that your healthcare provider receives quick and reliable results to make a treatment decision.12 Contact your clinician about available treatment options if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

Rapid testing for COVID-19 can allow you to start treatment faster, avoid complications, and get back to school or work sooner.

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Sign up for Rapid Insights, our email series on rapid molecular testing.

This program will teach you about rapid tests and how they can quickly identify illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and strep throat. Rapid testing can help you get treated earlier and get well sooner.

Keep reading
  1. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  2. Symptoms of COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html. Updated Mar. 22, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  3. What to Do If You Are Sick. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html. Updated Mar. 22, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  4. What are oral antivirals? https://combatcovid.hhs.gov/what-are-oral-antivirals. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  5. HHS Therapeutics Team. Side-by-Side Overview of Therapeutics Authorized or Approved for the Prevention of COVID-19 Infection or Treatment of Mild-Moderate COVID-19. https://aspr.hhs.gov/COVID-19/Therapeutics/Documents/side-by-side-overview.pdf. May 6, 2022.
  6. What you can do if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/COVID19-What-You-Can-Do-High-Risk.pdf. CS 330006-A. March 14, 2022.
  7. Who Is at High Risk for Severe Coronavirus Disease? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-covid19-who-is-at-higher-risk. Updated December 8, 2021. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  8. People with Certain Medical Conditions. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Updated May 2, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  9. People with Certain Medical Conditions. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Updated May 2, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  10. Types of Covid-19 tests. https://biodesign.asu.edu/research/clinical-testing/testing/test-types.  Accessed April 14, 2021.
  11. Everitt ML, Tillery A, David MG, et al. A critical review of point-of-care diagnostic technologies  to combat pandemics. Anal Chem Acta. 2021;1146:184-199
  12. COVID-19 Treatments and Medications. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/treatments-for-severe-illness.html. Updated Apr. 29, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022.
  13. What are monoclonal antibodies? https://combatcovid.hhs.gov/what-are-monoclonal-antibodies. Accessed May 18, 2022.