Types of COVID Testing

by Nathan Couvillon

Point of Care (PoC) Quick Facts

“Antigen Point of Care Testing” = Rapid Antigen Screening

  • Differs from antibody and diagnostic [molecular] test
  • Only to be used in asymptomatic individuals
    • Symptomatic individuals should seek a diagnostic test

Rapid testing not recommended for fully vaccinated individuals

  • 1-3 x’s/week for unvaccinated
  • Not useful in an ‘outbreak’ situation
  • PoC antigen tests not required to conform to Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act
  • Positive result must be confirmed with a molecular test
  • Cannot travel with a ‘negative’ rapid test result; must utilize a molecular method

Molecular Testing

Diagnostic test, viral test, molecular test, nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), RT-PCR test, LAMP test

  • Nasal swabs, either shallow or deep (most tests) or Saliva (some tests)
      • 1h
      • Same day
      • 24-72 h
  • No further testing required
  • Diagnoses active cases only
  • Won’t identify prior infection

Antigen Testing

  • Viral test, rapid test
  • Nasal or nasopharyngeal swab (most tests)
  • 15-30 min
  • Positive results are usually highly accurate, but false positives occur. Confirm with molecular test.
  • Indicates active COVID-19 infection.
  • If you have early COVID-19 onset, or if you previously had COVID-19 (>90 d)


  • Serological test, serology, blood test, serology test
  • Blood from a fingerstick or vein
  • Not typically; indicates previous infection
    • Same day
    • 24-72 h
  • Previous infection status
  • Not a real-time confirmation tool

Costs of Testing

PCR NAAT Antibody Antigen
Life Labs 199 +HST 199 +HST 75 +HST
Shoppers Drug Mart 199 +HST 40 +HST
Viscount Station 199 +HST 199 +HST
Chatham Family Pharmacy 159 +HST 75 +HST
Hauser Pharmacy (Hamilton) 160 +HST ?
Brady’s Drug Store (Essex) 200 +HST


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