How Do COVID-19 Rapid Tests Work and How Accurate Are They?

COVID-19 Testing remains an important tool to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, even as a vaccine rollout continues.

One of the best options for quickly determining if you have the virus is taking a Rapid Test. Using a sample obtained from your nasal cavity, a Rapid Test can offer a result in about 30 minutes.

If you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or are looking to travel, it’s recommended that you get a Rapid Test immediately to determine if you need to self-quarantine or not. Please confirm the specific test requirements with your venue or airlines prior to purchase. If you’re asymptomatic, you can schedule a Rapid Test today.

How Does the Rapid Antigen Test Work?

A rapid antigen COVID-19 test is typically performed by a medical professional who inserts a swab 2 to 3 centimeters into the nostril or until there is resistance in the cavity. The goal is to absorb the secretions inside the nasal cavity and use that fluid for the test.

Now, 2 to 3 centimeters may not sound very deep, but because the nasal cavity is lined with membranes containing tiny blood vessels, every little twist of the swab may feel uncomfortable – but it shouldn’t be painful.

That sample is then tested to see if it contains SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Results are typically available in 30 minutes.

Alternatives to an antigen test (Rapid Test) are molecular and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Antigen tests can find active coronavirus infections faster, but they are less accurate and have a greater chance of missing an active infection.

How Accurate Is a Rapid COVID Test?

Today’s rapid antigen tests are more than 80% accurate for those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, according to a CDC study. Those same tests are about half as accurate for those who are asymptomatic.

While there’s no such thing as a 100% accurate COVID-19 test, a Rapid Test is still an important tool to help reduce the spread of the virus, especially for those exhibiting symptoms. If you have COVID-19, a Rapid Test is likely to detect the virus, especially if you’re actively experiencing symptoms.

The CDC recommends that those with COVID-19 symptoms who test negative on a Rapid Test follow up with a more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. A PCR test will provide a more definitive result in anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Laboratories in the testing space continue to innovate and improve accuracy.

Get Tested Today

If you’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to get tested so that you can receive any necessary care and self-quarantine if necessary.

For those living in New York, BioReference offers asymptomatic Rapid Testing with results delivered in about 30 minutes. Schedule a test today.

Source: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention