Dear community: Please be sure to bring your ID and insurance card (if you are insured) with you to the visit. You may come get tested at any point before or after your scheduled time. Typical wait time 5-10 minutes.

Everything You Need to Know About a Nasal Swab

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. To make matters worse, it seems like updated and conflicting information comes out daily. As you navigate this new normal, you track the news as best you can, wear your mask, and keep a safe distance from others. 

But then, you feel the first tickle of a sore throat. Or you cough a couple of times and immediately start analyzing (and overanalyzing) every minor sensation you feel wondering if you have COVID-19. Fortunately, there’s a test for that.

And if you live in or around Atlanta, Georgia, there’s a free test for that. At Test4Free.org, we offer peace of mind and life-saving information by way of an accurate COVID-19 test. While there are a few different types of tests available, we administer the nasopharyngeal test because of its accuracy and reliability. But we know there are a lot of myths and stories circulating about COVID-19 tests, so we’re here to set the record straight.

Comparing different types of COVID-19 tests

If you need to get tested for COVID-19 (and even if you don’t), you’ve likely heard about different types and different methods. Some deliver fast results, others make you wait a few days, some are comfortable, some aren’t. So how do you know which is best and why?

Despite all the stories you hear, there are only two primary tests being used in the medical field today: antigen tests and molecular tests. There’s also a test that detects antibodies in people who have already had COVID-19 in the past, but there is too much variance in antibody levels from patient to patient to be useful at this time, and the test isn’t highly accurate.

Antigen tests

Antigen tests detect the proteins in the novel coronavirus, and once administered, it needs no subsequent third-party lab work.

Although at first blush, the antigen test may seem attractive because the results are ready in about 15 minutes, it’s notorious for delivering false-negative results. This is especially true if you happen to get tested a week or more after your symptoms appear. This is the period of time when the antigen count dips and may not be detected despite the fact that you have the virus.

Molecular tests

The molecular COVID-19 test seeks out the nucleic acid (RNA) in the virus and is much more sensitive than the antigen test. This is the type we administer here at Test4Free.org, because it can detect the virus even if there are very low levels in your system.

The molecular test we use is called the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rT-PCR) test. This test is able to amplify the nucleic acids in the sample we collect from you. When we add your sample to a vial of fluid, it converts the virus RNA into DNA and multiplies it a million times over so that the test can easily detect it no matter how low the virus level is in your system.

COVID-19 testing methodology

Another confusing aspect of COVID-19 testing is how your sample is collected. There are currently three main ways of getting a sample of your mucus.

Nasal swab

Using a long probe with a soft cotton swab at the end (like a long Q-Tip®), a health care professional gently rubs the inside of your nasal wall just inside your nostrils to saturate the swab with mucus.

Oropharyngeal swab

Using the same type of swab, the provider swipes the back of your throat, which may cause a gagging reflex.

Nasopharyngeal swab   

We have found that this method is the most accurate, because the sample we collect contains the highest concentration of the virus. Here, we insert the swab deeper into your nasal passage than a simple nasal swab does, which can be briefly uncomfortable.

We then send your sample to a lab and contact you with results in about three days.

When and where to get tested for COVID-19

Whether you’re experiencing symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or are required to take the test for your work or the safety of others, finding a test facility can be as confusing as the virus itself.

Our mission is to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible, so everyone who needs to get tested can. We offer no-cost, drive-through testing, no insurance necessary. You can either schedule a time or simply drive up when you’re ready.

We also offer house calls if you can’t leave your house or are uncomfortable doing so. We can test up to three people in your household. 

There’s no reason to live in the dark wondering whether your symptoms mean you have COVID-19 or something else. If you have questions or need more information, call us at 404-800-5181 or request an appointment online at Test4Free.org. 

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