Getting tested against COVID is the surest way a person can have to figure out whether they are infected with the COVID-19 virus or not. Rather than going based on the symptoms, active testing in the community is much better as it can help the community and the individual better plan things out in the case of a positive case.
With that said, one of the most accessible tests out there is the COVID antigen test, but what exactly is it and how accurate are its results? These are the questions we’ll be covering in the article below.
What is a COVID Antigen Test?
The COVID antigen test is one of the two viral tests available that tells someone if they currently are infected with COVID-19 or not. The other viral testing that diagnoses COVID-19 in someone would be the RT-PCR test, also known as the Molecular Test.
The Antigen test is also known as the rapid antigen test or the rapid test. The reason why it’s called that is that it is able to produce the results of the test in a matter of minutes. It is also known as a self-test and can be conducted anywhere if you have the at-home testing kit.
What’s the Difference Between an Antigen Test and a PCR Test?
The key difference between an antigen test like the flowflex rapid test and a PCR test is two things: the accuracy of the results as well as the speed of the release of the results.
As mentioned before, an antigen test can produce the results of its test sometimes within minutes after the testing. On the other hand, the PCR test needs to have the test examined in a lab first before it is able to produce results. Thus, you can expect it to take a few days.
However, the antigen test is less sensitive and thus, less reliable in terms of its results. On the other hand, a PCR test is more accurate and reliable when it comes to its results, particularly its negative ones.
How Accurate is a COVID Antigen Test?
Many people wonder if an antigen test can give out a false-positive result. Although it is possible, studies show that rapid antigen tests correctly give positive results 99.6% of the time.
What’s likely to happen with an antigen test would be a false negative. According to the same March 2021 studies as above, antigen tests have a higher rate of accuracy for diagnosing a positive test result in people with COVID-19 symptoms than those without.
Another part of that study shows that antigen tests are more accurate if you wait a few days after exposure before taking the test but not any time later than a week.
Why Should You Still Use an Antigen Test?
Antigen tests might not be as accurate or reliable as the RT-PCR test, however, they’re still a worthwhile tool in diagnosing COVID in someone.
One reason is that it can give a result in minutes rather than days. Therefore, if you’re positive, you can rectify it faster. They are more accessible and portable than lab testing as well so they’re convenient to do, even when someone’s isolated. It’s also much more affordable to do.
Given these reasons, they’re still a viable tool for COVID-19 testing even if they’re not as reliable.
What Do You Do If You Get a Negative Result From an Antigen Test?
If you find yourself getting a negative result from an antigen test, it’s a good idea to wait for a couple of days before getting tested with the antigen test again.
As mentioned before, antigen tests can give out false negatives. To be safe, it’s best to get several tests done in several days.
However, if you tested negative and still feel symptoms, there’s a good likelihood that you’re getting false negatives so it’s better to upgrade to an RT-PCR test for better accuracy.
Despite not being as accurate or reliable as an RT-PCR test or lab testing, a COVID antigen test is still a great tool for diagnosing positive COVID-19 cases. With its accessibility, convenience, and affordability, it’s still a useful arsenal in our fight against COVID-19.