The two main tests being used during this pandemic are nasal swabs to detect active infection, and antibody tests to detect prior infection.
The nasal swab uses a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which is a chemical tool that amplifies tiny amounts of nucleic acid to allow detection of viral RNA.
Antibody tests fall into two main categories: detection and protective value. The two main detection assays are for either spike glycoprotein (allows the virus to enter human cells) or nucleocapsid phosphoprotein (the most abundant protein). Both can confirm a prior corona virus infection.
Neutralizing antibody assay is used to determine if the presence of antibodies can “kill” (neutralize) the corona virus in a test tube. This type of testing will be used to determine how effective corona virus vaccines will be.