COVID-19 Test Basics

My HealtheVet and COVID-19 testing results

COVID-19 test results from any lab test ordered by a VA health care team will appear in your My HealtheVet account. You’ll need a Premium account to view your test results. Sign in to your account and follow these steps to access your COVID-19 test results:

  • Select Labs + Tests on the home page. On a mobile phone, you can click ‘Menu’ in the right-hand corner, and then ‘Track Health.’ Then you’ll see Labs + Tests.

  • Select ‘View More’ under VA Chemistry/Hematology.

  • Review the summary list ‘by date’ for COVID-19 test results performed at your VA facility. It may be listed as “Body Structure” or “nasal,” rather than “COVID-19.” Click on the result and it will say if you’re positive or negative for COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing is easier to find these days. More people than ever are getting tested. Do you know about the different tests available? To better understand how these tests work and their main differences, we’ve listed some of the COVID-19 test basics, with help from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Diagnostic tests

The molecular test is highly accurate and often referred to as an RT-PCR test. You might take one if you or your doctor think you have COVID-19. It is considered the most accurate type of test. A health care provider will collect mucus from your nose or throat using a specialized swab in most cases. Depending on your testing location, results may take up to a week.

Antigen tests work like molecular testing but much faster. They’re less expensive and often called a 'rapid test.' Your health worker will swab the back of your nose or throat to collect a sample. However, if you have symptoms but test negative, your doctor may have you take a molecular test to rule out a false negative. Results may be available within 15 - 30 minutes.

Antibody test

Antibody tests do not diagnose an active infection. Only an antibody test can determine past exposure. But antibody tests do not reveal active infection. The test can take a couple days to process and is done by a blood test. It will tell you if you’ve ever been infected. Antibodies don’t become detectable until several days after an infection has started, so an antibody test can be falsely negative soon after you develop symptoms. Results may be available within 1 - 3 days.

VA and COVID-19 test results

VA medical centers use all three types of tests. To get a test, you must have an appointment. You can request an appointment in any of these ways:

The next time you talk to your doctor either in person or by video, make sure you ask questions about COVID-19 testing.

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Updated December 10, 2021