Difference Between Antigen and PCR Test

By: | Updated: Feb-17, 2022
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With the COVID-19 pandemic, we became more familiar with the term of antigen and PCR tests. But do you know the differences between them? Read on to find out the facts!

Antigen PCR
is a blood or tissue test that detects the presence of a specific antigen, or protein, in the body. is a laboratory test that can identify a particular sequence of DNA.
results are typically available within a few days. results can take several days or weeks.
Is more general. Is more specific.
Less expensive. More expensive.
Considered less accurate. Considered more accurate.
Is a qualitative test. Is a quantitative test.
Is considered less complicated and can be done at home. Is considered more complicated and always needs laboratory testing.
Uses blood samples or swabbing the inside of check or infected wounds. Uses saliva or genital secretions.

Difference Between Antigen and PCR Test

The antigen test is a blood or tissue test that detects the presence of a specific antigen, or protein, in the body. The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is a laboratory test that can identify a particular sequence of DNA.

Antigen test results are typically available within a few days, while PCR test results can take several days or weeks.

The antigen test is more of a general test, while the PCR test is more specific and can identify a particular DNA sequence. The antigen test is less expensive than the PCR test.

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PCR test results are more accurate than antigen test results. It is possible for a person to test negative for an antigen even if they are infected, while a PCR test will always identify the presence of a particular DNA sequence. That’s why PCR is the gold standard for diagnosing many infections.

Another difference is that the antigen test is a qualitative test, which means it just tells you if the antigen is present or not, while the PCR test is a quantitative test, which means it can give you a measure of how much of the DNA sequence is present.

People who take antigen test results at face value and don’t get a PCR test as a follow-up may not be getting the most accurate information about their infection status.

There are a few different types of home antigen test kits available, and they all work a little bit differently. Some antigen test kits require you to prick your finger and collect a small blood sample. Others require you to swab the inside of your cheek or the surface of an infected wound.

Once you have collected a sample, you just need to follow the instructions on the kit to send it in for testing. Most antigen test kits are sent to a laboratory for testing, but a few do offer the option of home testing.

PCR test kits are also available for home testing, but they are a little more complicated to use than antigen test kits. PCR test kits usually require you to collect a sample of saliva or genital secretions. You then need to send the sample to a laboratory for testing.

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