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Understanding the Different Types of COVID-19 Tests

Useful information regarding the test of COVID-19 has been shared by Samitivej Hospital, a Corporate Member of the Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce.  From the time being, there are two types of COVID-19 tests;  one will determine the presence of the virus in your body by looking for the virus’ genetic markers while the other will look for antibodies in your immune system as a response to the virus’ presence.

For the current tests, below are detailed descriptions and availability.

PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR)

Assesses presence of virus in patient.

Requires respiratory samples via nasopharyngal swab or sputum.

Looks for virus genetic markers: RNA (ribonucleic acid) is extracted from respiratory specimens, amplified using RT-PCR and detected using fluorescent reporter dye probes specific for SARS-CoV-2.

Test results usually require 1-2 days processing time. Due to high volume, this processing time is now up to 6 days in Thai public labs.

Who is it for: PCR is the first line test for patients with risks of contamination.

Accredited by National Lab of Thailand laboratories

Turnaround: 5-6 days

Samitivej Hospital’s ARI Clinic

Turnaround: 1-2 days

Blood tests or antibody tests or serology test or rapid test

The test is based on serology test to detect antibodies (IgG & IgM) in the blood serum or plasma. It requires a blood test, but results are fast: 15 minutes.

Since the test looks for antibodies, it can’t be used in early stages of the disease since the body hasn’t had time to produce antibodies yet. However, it can be useful to test a person whose symptoms have subsided since the body will continue producing antibodies after the virus has been eliminated.

Who is it for: for patients with long enough exposure that the body has already produced antibodies.

In the research process, awaiting approval.


Chest CTs have a high sensitivity for detecting respiratory symptoms, but low specificity – it is not possible to know whether respiratory symptoms are due to SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory disorders such as pneumonia. As such, CT-scans are not used as 1st-line diagnostic tools for SARS-CoV-2.

Chest X-rays (CXR) have low sensitivity but have 2 main advantages: capacity and speed. CXR is used in conjunction with clinical history and key blood markers (blood test): CRP and lymphopaenia. CXR is allowing more rapid determination of patients without COVID-19 lung infection from probable cases of COVID-19.


PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) is now available at Samitivej Hospital’s Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) Clinic. To have yourself tested, follow the instruction below. :

📌 Steps

  1. Access via
  2. Click button to begin consultation
  3. See nurse for initial assessment (free)

📌 In case of being at risk

  1. Schedule a throat swab test (Baht 6,500*)
  2. Make payment online
  3. Park at ARI Clinic (P1 Fl.)
  4. Stay in your car while doctor collects the sample
  5. Results available within 24 hours**


*Service available only at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital only. *Price includes doctor’s fees, laboratory fees, medical supplies and hospital service fees. **Short delays may occur in case of high volume of tests. Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) Clinic is separated from other patient areas at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital. You may also use Samitivej’s online consultation service through their Virtual Hospital: