More rapid COVID-19 testing sites popping up in central NC

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- When people want to know whether or not they've contracted COVID-19, they generally think -- the faster, the better.

Companies know that so more rapid testing sites are popping up around central North Carolina.

One of the most recent sites to offer rapid testing is at American Family Care in Fuquay-Varina.

There, doctors are promising a result in just 15 minutes.

The quick response gives patients the peace of mind about their status. For those who test positive, they can start care immediately.

"We know that COVID takes on a widespread of illness from asymptomatic to respiratory failure and death. So my approach is, if you request a COVID test, you can get a medical screening with our medical providers so we can do an additional history and exam and make sure you're not at risk of anything," Dr. John Carmack said.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that medical screening is an important part of these rapid antigen tests, which look for specific markers on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2.

The "gold standard" for clinical diagnostic detection of the novel coronavirus in the United States is still the RT-PCR test, according to the CDC, which analyzes a patient's sample for the genetic material specific to the novel coronavirus and generally takes a little longer. That's the test many sites in North Carolina use. The Department of Health and Human Services reports the average turnaround time for PCR tests in the state is 2 days.

Though newer rapid tests are very sensitive and specific, the CDC says the sensitivity of the 15-minute tests tends to be a bit lower than the PCR test and, therefore, the antigen tests are more likely to produce both false positive and negative results. The agency recommends antigen testing in the early stages of infection, when a patient tends to have more virus in their system.

"In most cases, negative antigen diagnostic test results are considered presumptive," the CDC website says. "CDC recommends confirming negative antigen test results with an RT-PCR test when the pretest probability is relatively high, especially if the patient is symptomatic or has a known exposure to a person confirmed to have COVID-19."
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