Diagnostic test: conducted via a nasal or throat swab; best suited for someone with severe symptoms; results may take several days or even weeks to become available.
Antibody test: taken via a blood sample; confirms if you had a previous infection of the virus, but may not detect if it is still in your system as it generally takes 14 days following symptoms for antibodies to appear; does not determine if you will get the virus again; can help track where the virus has spread and monitor fatality rates if conducted over a widespread area.
Antigen test: quickly registers antigens to the virus (or certain molecules that help evoke an immune response to something foreign in the body, such as a virus); results are ready in a shorter time; may potentially become a more efficient and affordable option for testing in the future.
“The presence of COVID-19 and many other viruses in patient specimens can be confirmed using these antigen tests, usually within minutes to hours,” Dr. Berger told Business Insider.
Although these antigen tests are not yet currently on the market, they are in development right now. The speed at which they can detect the virus, as well as the possibility of at-home antigen test kits, making them an attractive option as we continue to face COVID-19.