COVID-19 Resources

Understanding Different Types of COVID-19 Tests

Aug. 3, 2020

The UC Health Pathology director sheds light on in-house COVID-19 testing capabilities and types.

Every day, hundreds of swabs pass through UC Health, each holding the answer to the same question: Does it carry COVID-19?

UC Health’s laboratories have performed in-house testing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s up to the lab technicians to answer that question for UC Health’s patients.

“We’ve got a very large operation with multiple different instruments that can support this testing,” said Dani Zander, MD, medical director of UC Health Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The labs process PCR tests, which are “extremely sensitive” in detecting viral RNA. 

“It’s a really excellent test for diagnosis of active infections with COVID-19,” Dr. Zander said.

UC Health has the technology to process some PCR tests very rapidly — as short as 30 or 90 minutes. These tests are much more accurate than antigen testing — a type of “rapid testing,” which has a higher rate of false-negative results, Dr. Zander said.