If you have just gotten an inconclusive Covid-19 test, you may be wondering what it means and the next step you should take. Also, you may want to know – what does an inconclusive Covid test look like?
There are three possible results when one gets tested for Covid-19. A positive Covid-19 test result means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in your sample. A negative test result means that the virus isn’t present in your sample, while an inconclusive Covid test result means that the test couldn’t be interpreted as either positive or negative. So, what are the reasons for an inconclusive Covid test, and how do you proceed after getting such a result?
The two commonly used diagnostic tests for Covid-19 are the PCR and the rapid antigen test, also referred to as the lateral flow test (LFT).
A PCR test is a molecular test that determines the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by detecting the genetic material of the virus. On the other hand, a rapid antigen test determines if your sample has viral proteins that are unique to the coronavirus.
Molecular tests are more accurate, and they also have fewer false positive results compared to antigen tests. However, this does not mean that one cannot get an inconclusive PCR test. Similarly, lateral flow tests (LFTS) will sometimes give void results.
Some of the reasons for inconclusive Covid test results from both of these tests include:
An inconclusive Covid-19 test result doesn’t mean that you don’t have an active infection. For instance, if you got an inconclusive result because you conducted the test too early, you might still be contagious.
If you receive an inconclusive test, the first thing you should do is self-isolate more so if you have Covid-19 symptoms or you have been in contact with an infected person. Ensure you continue to follow the Covid-19 quarantine guidelines until you do another test. Next, you need to take a new Covid-19 test. If the inconclusive Covid test result was from a PCR test, you might need to wait for at least one day before you take another test. If you got a void test result after taking a lateral flow test, the NHS recommends that you take another test as soon as possible.
If you have recently come into contact with someone infected with Covid-19, it’s advisable that you get tested. You can order an at-home LFT from an online private test provider such as HandStations.co.uk.
According to the NHS guidelines, anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 should avoid contact with others for at least five days. Also, they should avoid meeting people who are at a higher risk from Covid-19 for at least ten days. In case your symptoms get worse even after isolating, you should seek medical advice. Some of the warning Covid-19 symptoms that may warrant a visit to the doctor include:
If you test negative for Covid, but you have symptoms such as fever, chills, the new loss of smell or taste, a continuous cough, fatigue, headache, congestion or a runny nose, you should:
In closing, getting an inconclusive Covid-19 test result shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. A Covid test result can come back as inconclusive due to a testing error, inadequate sample, or if the test was done too early or too late. If your test result comes back as inconclusive, continue isolating at home as you wait to do another test. And if you’re worried about your health, you can always contact your healthcare provider.