You’ve undoubtedly heard a great deal about rapid antigen tests for coronavirus illness (COVID-19). If you believe you may have COVID-19 and need testing, contact your physician or local health agency. Additionally, you may locate a community testing location in your state or purchase an FDA-approved at-home test. Certain FDA-approved at-home testing provides findings within minutes. Others demand that the sample be sent to a laboratory for examination.
It is critical to understand COVID-19 testing in order to make an educated choice that matches your requirements.
Types of Examinations
There are two sorts of rapid antigen tests: diagnostic and antibody.
Diagnostic testing may determine whether you are infected with COVID-19 and should quarantine or separate yourself from others. Diagnostic studies such as molecular and antigen testing may determine whether you have a current COVID-19 infection. Typically, diagnostic samples are taken using a nose or throat swab or by spitting into a tube.
Rapid antigen tests check for antibodies generated by your immune system in response to the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. Antibody testing should not be utilized to identify a COVID-19 infection that is still ongoing. Antibodies may develop many days or weeks after infection and may remain in your blood for several weeks or longer after recovery. Antibody rapid antigen tests are normally performed using blood obtained by a finger stick or blood collected by your doctor or other medical staff.
If you are tested, you should quarantine and isolate yourself at home until your test results are received and follow the advice of your health care practitioner or public health specialist.
When should I schedule an appointment for a test?
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, even after immunization
- If you have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, even after vaccination • If you have engaged in activities that put you at increased risk for COVID-19 because you were unable to socially distance yourself as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings
- If your health care physician, or state health agency has requested or recommended you to be tested
Additionally, your school, business, or community may organize a screening program in which they test people who are members of a group (at work or school), even if there is no cause to assume they are infected with COVID-19. The FDA published this fact sheet to provide further information regarding screening programs.
To locate a nearby testing location, call your health care practitioner or visit the website of your state or health department.
Are the COVID-19 rapid antigen tests capable of detecting omicron, delta, and other variants?
COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are currently intended and approved to screen for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in general, not for particular variations, also referred to as SARS-CoV-2 viral mutations or genetic mutations. All viruses adapt and mutate throughout time, resulting in the development of new viral strains. There are no approved COVID-19 assays that precisely detect the omicron, delta, or other SARS-CoV-2 variants in patient samples.
The FDA’s website SARS-CoV-2 Viral Mutations: Impact on COVID-19
Rapid antigen tests include technical information concerning some COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for which the FDA has discovered possible performance impairments owing to SARS-CoV-2 viral mutations. The FDA collaborates extensively with test developers to detect possible viral mutational effects on FDA-approved COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and to verify that novel variations have a minimum effect on test performance.
Local, state, and federal public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monitor SARS-CoV-2 viral variations in order to determine which virus strains are spreading. These public health authorities utilize a technique called whole-genome sequencing to look for viral strains that are circulating in the society as a whole, rather than for individual individuals.
Health care clinicians treat COVID-19 patients based on the patient’s diagnosis and symptoms, not on the viral strain. For additional information on treatment choices, read Know Your COVID-19 Treatment Options and speak with your health care physician about your symptoms.
Obtaining a Test
Numerous rapid antigen tests, including some home collection and at-home rapid antigen tests, need a physician’s prescription or order.
Prescription Rapid antigen tests – Your health care provider can assess whether you need a test and can ensure that you get the most suitable test and understand the findings. For example, some rapid antigen tests are approved only in individuals suspected of having COVID-19 or in those who developed COVID-19 symptoms within a certain number of days. A health care practitioner can assist you in determining the most appropriate test for your case. Prescription-only home collection and at-home testing may need you to complete certain questions online in order for your health care practitioner to decide whether to prescribe or order a particular test.
Rapid antigen tests Accessible Without a Prescription — Certain rapid antigen tests are available without a prescription. Without a prescription, home collection and at-home testing are referred to as “direct-to-consumer” (DTC) or “over-the-counter” products (OTC). DTC and OTC rapid antigen tests may be purchased in a drugstore or online, although they are not always accessible.
Collecting specimens at the patient’s residence and administering rapid antigen tests at the patient’s residence
Can I get an at-home examination? What is the difference between in-home sampling and in-home testing? Which kit do I require? To address these concerns, it is necessary to understand the distinctions between COVID-19 testing and home collection vs at-home exams.
Why is this critical? These distinctions affect where the sample is taken, how the test is performed, and how fast the findings are available. While rapid antigen tests are the fastest and most convenient alternative, they are not always the best ones.
Consumers may get up-to-date information on permitted rapid antigen tests and collection kits by using this search whenever new rapid antigen tests are authorized for usage. Plus, consumers should always pay attention to whatever COVID they are getting.