What Are NAAT COVID Tests?
NAAT, or Nucleaic Acid Amplification Tests, is a type of SARS-CoV2 diagnostic that detects the nucleic material of the virus. Specifically, NAATs identify the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the SARS-CoV2 virus.
The NAAT works by amplifying the virus's genetic material so that even small amounts of viral load can be detected. Therefore, NAAT tests can be trusted to detect reliably detect even tiny quantities of COVID. In fact, the false-negative readings of NAAT tests are remarkably small.
Some providers now offer on-site NAAT testing that returns results immediately. According to the Mayo Clinic, these results are 98% as accurate as a standard RT-PCR test.
What is a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Test?
A reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test detects viruses by amplifying DNA or RNA sequences using specific primers. The amplified product is then detected using fluorescent probes. Technically, a RT-PCR test is also a NAAT test! The PCR test is much more sensitive than other NAAT tests, and is the gold standard of COVID testing.
Do NAAT Tests Meet Travel Requirements?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers carry out at least one molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 infection before they travel abroad. These tests include real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT), and serology.
Before getting tested, please verify the testing requirements for both your airline and destination. Many countries and airlines require specific PCR tests from partner-clinics.
Which Is Better: NAAT or PCR Testing?
In general, a RT-PCR test is the most accurate way to determine if you have an active COVID infection. If speed or convenience is important and a NAAT test is available near you, you can trust that the NAAT will probably detect an active COVID infection just as well.
Where Should I Get Tested?
Look for a NAAT or RT-PCR Test near you with TestNearMe.org! We have up-to-date information on thousands of testing sites around the world, with accurate availability and pricing. You can even filter for things like 'at home COVID tests' and 'drive through COVID tests'!