Your Questions Answered
Question: What is the difference between PCR and rapid antigen tests?
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a very sensitive molecular test that looks for genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is the primary way to discover and verify the presence of a COVID-19 infection. UC San Diego’s EXCITE Lab processes samples daily, typically turning around results in 24 hours. These tests involve a nasal swab; self-administered test kits can be found in vending machines across campus
Rapid antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 virus, influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and produce results quickly (within approximately 15–30 minutes). Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 are generally less sensitive than real-time PCR and other nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), which detect and amplify the presence of viral nucleic acid. These tests will be available later next week at all campus vending machines
in addition to PCR tests. Students can also pick up rapid antigen tests at several campus locations
Question: How can I learn about the current status of COVID-19 at UC San Diego?
: The UC San Diego COVID-19 Daily Dashboard
includes the number of positive cases among students (on and off campus) and employees over the past month; average test result time; cumulative cases for the current quarter; campus density statistics, San Diego County case rates and hospitalizations; and a wastewater monitoring map that details potential locations where exposures could have happened.
Question: What is the benefit of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu?
According to Robert "Chip" Schooley, professor in UC San Diego's School of Medicine, it’s like putting money in the bank for the future. What you're doing is educating your immune system so that when it inevitably runs into the real virus, (either influenza or SARS-CoV-2) it is better prepared to deal with it. Each time your body sees the viral antigen in a vaccine or the virus in an infection, your immune system builds a little more immunity to that virus and goes through a series of maturations that allow more and more sophisticated immune responses in the weeks following. The reasons vaccines work is they are engineered to make the body think it's looking at the real thing. The body doesn't know whether it's looking at the virus or the vaccine, yet it will still make the antibodies that will attack the virus. Learn more from Dr. Schooley in a recent Q&A story