Choosing the right COVID-19 test: What are my options?

AFC Urgent Care New Britain is providing COVID-19 testing in order to ensure that patients that are at risks for COVID-19 are able to get an effective and efficient diagnosis. As we do our part to help the New Britain, CT community with increased testing we want to help break down the different types of COVID-19 tests available to the public. We will address these common questions about the available Diagnostic testing, Antigen testing and the Antibody testing:

  • How reliable are they?
  • Which one should I get?
  • What do my results mean?

***Please note we’re reporting the different types of testing options for COVID-19. We currently do not offer Antigen testing but may carry it in the future. Stay tuned.

Diagnostic COVID-19 Test for the active virusimage of a pa administering a diagnostic pcr nasal swab test for COVID-19. AFC Urgent Care offers COVID-19 testing 7 days a week.

Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is performed via a nasal swab and can detect the active virus in symptomatic patients who are currently sick with COVID-19. The test is performed via a sample taken from a swab of your lower nasal cavity or the back of the throat. It takes only a few moments and is painless to you. AFC Urgent Care New Britain offers the nasal swab diagnostic test as this type of test is more accurate for detecting the virus’s genetic material. 

What does your results from the Diagnostic test mean?

Positive results from diagnostic testing indicate that you are infected with the active virus. You will have to self isolate and take other necessary precautions advised by your healthcare provider and The CDC. 

A negative NAAT/PCR diagnostic test result means you don’t have the virus. But, this does not mean you’re in the clear just yet!

NAAT/PCR Tests can ALSO result in false negatives. False negatives while showing symptoms of COVID-19 could possibly mean the test wasn’t as sensitive or that it wasn’t an accurate reading. False positives rarely occur because the rate of such occurrence is very, very low.

How accurate is the Diagnostic test for COVID-19?

PCR tests are considered the most reliable and the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing, but, like all tests, they are not perfect. Because they measure genetic material of the virus, it can’t confuse genetic material of other viruses so it’s very specific – thus the reliable positives. 

Unfortunately, it’s not equally as sensitive. If the specimen collection is not done perfectly, or if you are in an early stage of infection or already partially recovered, your nasal-swab sample might not contain enough viral material to come back positive – and thus the false negatives.

How long does it take to get results from a NAAT/PCR test?

Our AFC location in New Britain offers drive thru standard NAAT/PCR diagnostic testing 7 days a week. There is no appointment needed for this testing option. Standard PCR Nasal swab samples are generally sent to centralized labs for analysis, so it can take several days to get the results back. 

Wait times can also vary depending on how many cases are being tested because of lab capacity and backlogs. During this time, all healthcare centers and facilities are at their busiest considering the holidays and people wanting to be together with their families. Test results may take longer depending on lab capacity and how long you wait to decide to get tested.The average wait time for results are between 3-5 business days but during peak season ( now) may take up to 7 business days. 

In addition, to standard Diagnostic testing we also offer Rapid Diagnostic testing. 

***UPDATED 4-14-21

Rapid COVID-19 testing is a faster option and is now offered on a walk-in basis with no appointment needed.  Results are available within 30 minutes of testing. Scheduling a Rapid test is easy, but slots can fill up fast! Please check back on our site as slots become available.

How much does the Diagnostic test cost?

***It is important to note that this is an ever changing arrangement with the federal and state grant programs. Please check with our center ahead of time if you have additional questions pertaining to cost.

At the present time, (mid December 2020) the PCR test is available at AFC Urgent Care New Britain for FREE if you meet the following criteria: 

  • If you have insurance. The majority of CT insurance providers cover the cost of the test. Please check with your provider if you are unsure. 
  • If you do not have insurance you will need to provide your social security number at the time of testing. 

***If you do not have insurance or a social security ID then the out of pocket cost for the test is $250.

Should you receive a bill in the mail from the lab after providing your insurance or social security ID, please call the lab to have the fee waived. 

Antigen COVID-19 testing

Similar to PCR diagnostic testing, the antigen test also attempts to find out if you currently have the virus. Like the PCR tests, antigen tests usually require a nose or throat swab. But, unlike PCR tests, which look for genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, antigen tests look for proteins that live on the virus’ surface and can identify people who are at the peak of infection, when virus levels in the body are likely to be high.

The test can turn around results in minutes, but the test is not as accurate as the Diagnostic PCR test. The tradeoff with speed is that false negatives are more likely to occur when choosing the antigen test. 

What do my antigen COVID-19 test results mean?

If you get a positive reading from an antigen test, then you are most likely positive. The tradeoff again with speed is that the antigen test is not as sensitive as the PCR test. Therefore, false positives and negatives can occur. If you receive a positive reading then you will need to self isolate and follow CDC guidelines for health and safety. 

Like PCR tests, false negatives can also occur, but more often because of it not being as sensitive/accurate. If you are experiencing symptoms and test negative you should follow up with your healthcare provider to get a PCR test.

It is common for people to gravitate towards antigen testing because it’s less expensive and results are available in minutes, but some experts claim they could miss 50 percent of infections when only small amounts of infection are present. It is for this reason that rapid antigen tests are best used repeatedly in the same population as part of an overall testing strategy. Frequent testing thus makes up for poor sensitivity.

So why use an antigen test? 

Antigen tests help provide results in just a few minutes. As a result, they could be used to screen people in hospitals, certain workplaces, or in other instances where it’s important to find out quickly whether someone is currently at risk of spreading the disease. But because of false negatives and positives, results should be followed up with a PCR test as appropriate.

*At the time of this posting, AFC Urgent Care is NOT offering the Antigen test. 

Antibody COVID-19 test for past infectionimage of the antibody test for COVID-19. AFC Urgent Care Danbury offers antibody testing for COVID-19 7 days a week

At AFC Urgent Care New Britain, we perform the specific and accurate Antibody Serology Test. This is a very sophisticated test, performed in a complex laboratory, called ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay). This test is highly specific and accurate for COVID-19. It is performed by obtaining blood in a vial and sending to a high complexity laboratory to perform. 

The second type of serology test is a Cartridge based Rapid COVID-19 IgM/IgG which is performed by obtaining a blood sample with a finger stick and it generates results within 15-20 minutes. However, the majority of currently available Rapid Cartridge based tests are not very specific and accurate to COVID-19. 

How does the antibody test work?

People typically begin to develop antibodies 1-3 weeks after symptoms began, so they are not used to diagnose current disease. It is wise to conduct an IgG antibody test after 14 days of being symptom free because most people will develop an IgG response in that timeframe.

What do my antibody test results mean and are they accurate?

A positive antibody test indicates exposure to coronavirus and development of an immune response. 

Please note: Even if the results are accurate, scientists do not yet know how well or for how long coronavirus antibodies protect someone from a future case of COVID-19. A positive antibody test result does not mean you can’t get COVID-19 again, at least as far as current science suggests. This is something the scientific community is actively studying to provide recommendations going forward.

A negative result indicates that you have not been exposed to a coronavirus, or that you have been exposed in the very recent past and your body has not had the opportunity to develop an immune response yet.

How much does the antibody test cost?

***As stated above, It is important to note that during this time of crises,  cost is an ever changing arrangement with the federal and state grant programs. 

At this time, the Antibody test is available at AFC Urgent Care New Britain for FREE if you meet the following criteria: 

  • If you have CT insurance. Please check with your provider.
  • If you don’t have insurance, you will need to provide your social security number at the time of testing.

***If you don’t have insurance or a social security ID then the out of pocket cost for the test is $250.

Should you receive a bill in the mail from the lab after providing your insurance or social security ID, please call the lab to waive the lab fee.

New Britain AFC Urgent Care offers COVID-19 testing

AFC Urgent Care offers COVID-19 testing to help our friends and families in the New Britain community. COVID-19 testing options at AFC Urgent Care New Britain are:

For the active virus

  • Rapid Diagnostic testing: By appointment only
  • Drive thru standard PCR Diagnostic testing: No appointment needed 

For past infection

  • Antibody test: No appointment needed

Our AFC location in New Britain is open 7 days a week and can help answer your questions about COVID-19 testing and what your best options are when it comes to testing. 

Feel free to contact us with further questions at: (860) 470-7710

Press option 1 once connected or refer to our COVID FAQ’s