The Rapid Antigen Test: What Is It, and How Does it Work?

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Rapid Antigen

To control the coronavirus outbreak by detecting it quickly and correctly in the mass population, many authorities, and governments approved the rapid antigen test along with the most commonly used one known as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test.  

Unlike PCR, the rapid antigen test can be performed by individuals in the comfort of their homes to confirm if they should isolate or not, preventing the virus from spreading. One of the approved tests is Healgen rapid Covid-19 antigen self-test, which comes with all the equipment and proper instructions to help suspected individuals test themselves for coronavirus.

This article will explain what the rapid antigen test is and how it works in simple terms. If you want to know the details, read below!

What Is the Rapid Antigen Test?

As soon as our body recognizes a foreign (harmful) substance in it, our immune system responds to it, and as a result, antibodies are released.

These foreign/harmful substances are called antigens; they can be toxins, chemicals, viruses, bacteria, or other substances from outside the body.

A rapid antigen test is quick to detect antigens that could be the protein fragments on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which ultimately causes the Coronavirus disease.

In addition to detecting Coronavirus, rapid antigen tests can also be used to identify malaria, streptococcus infections, and the influenza virus.

How Does the Rapid Antigen Test Work?

A specimen for a rapid antigen test is taken from the nasal or upper throat (nasopharyngeal) using a sterile cotton swab. It is then placed in an extraction tube, where the liquid from the swab is properly squeezed and extracted.

After the sample is collected in the extraction tube, a few drops of sample is then put on the test strip along with a liquid testing solution to separate particles.

You will have to wait for about 15 minutes to get the result. Ensure the sample is not placed on the strip for more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, the results won’t be accurate. If you see any visible line(s) on the test strip, it usually means you’re tested positive for the virus.     

Being tested positive for a rapid antigen test means that you are infected with the Corona Virus and vice versa for being tested negative.

Every at-home kit comes with detailed guidelines and step-by-step instructions, so you must carefully read them and strictly follow them for the most accurate results.  

Pros vs. Cons

The best thing about the rapid antigen test is that it is cost-effective compared to the PCR test. The rapid antigen test costs anywhere between $5 and $50, whereas the PCR test costs around $70 to $100.

The results of rapid antigen tests can be confirmed within 15 to 30 minutes, and it is relatively easy to use at home for self-testing.

However, on the other hand, the results from the rapid antigen tests may not be entirely accurate. You may ask, why?

Because antigen tests are not sensitive. In other words, if an individual is asymptomatic or is in the early stage of infection, there may not be a large number of antigens in the area from which the sample is being collected (such as throat/nasal).

Therefore, it may lead to inaccurate results, and you may need a follow-up test to confirm your results.