Covid cases usually present with a range of flu-like symptoms (such as fever, body aches, sore throat, cough, congestion,vomiting and diarrhea). It’s important to realize that not every person shows the same combination or severity of symptoms. If your child experiences these symptoms, it is reasonable to have them tested for Covid. They can test as soon as they are symptomatic.
We have two testing options available in our office, both of which require a nasal swab: rapid testing (with results in 15 minutes) and send out laboratory testing (with results usually available in 48 hours). The send out testing is what is referred to as a ‘PCR test’ and has a higher likelihood of detecting the virus. You must schedule your child for a sick visit or virtual visit with one of our providers to have a Covid test. We do not have saliva based or cheek swab testing available in our office at this time.
Home rapid antigen tests are reportedly as sensitive as office-based rapid antigen tests when evaluated in lab settings. It has not been confirmed that these tests work as well in real world settings. It is reasonable to assume a positive home test is reliable, but a negative test should be interpreted with some caution, depending on the specific situation.
Please ensure you check with your child’s school on which test is required and accepted for return to school policy.
Tests do not specify which variant of Covid is present. This should not matter because once infected, there is not likely to be a significant difference in the outcome of the infection (delta variant is more easily spread, but there is no evidence that shows it is any more serious than other strains once you get it). It is currently safe to assume that a positive test means you have the delta variant as that is reported to be the vast majority of circulating infections.
We do not perform antibody testing in our office. If appropriate, we can order antibody testing through an outside draw station. In general, there is limited benefit to antibody testing. Antibodies tend to fade after several months, but that does not mean that Covid immunity has faded. A negative antibody test does not rule-out prior infection or ongoing immunity. Asymptomatic cases may test positive for Covid antibodies, but it is unclear whether this provides lasting protection from re-infection. Antibodies generally do not become detectable until 10-14 days after the onset of illness, so immediate testing post-exposure is not helpful in medical decision making.