5 steps to ensure an accurate COVID-19 rapid antigen test

A rapid antigen test is carried out to detect proteins from SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19. You can collect the sample by yourself to test at home using a nasal swab or saliva.

The test you may be familiar with is the polymerase chain reaction or PCR test is different. It detects genetic material from the virus. Unlike rapid antigen tests, PCR samples are collected by trained health workers and are processed in the lab by trained technicians.

Rapid antigen tests are now more available in pharmacies, so we must know how to use them correctly.

Rapid antigen tests are beneficial in telling a person whether or not they have COVID-19 before attending a gathering or if they have symptoms.

If coloured lines appear on both the C and T, this indicates a positive Covid result. Whilst, only 1 coloured line indicates a negative Covid result.

How a rapid antigen test is performed

Most Test kits come with instructions and a QR code linking to a video. You need to follow the instructions in the letter to get an accurate result.

Hingeing on the test type you choose, you will collect a sample of nasal secretions or saliva which is to be placed in a chemical solution. You can now place the chemical solution containing your sample onto an indicator device which is a bit like a pregnancy test. This would show a positive result via a detectable colour change.

You can purchase Rapid antigen tests kits at supermarkets and pharmacies to test yourself at home for COVID-19 in about 15 minutes hence it is known as a 15-minute covid test.

Test results can be sooner than standard PCR tests, which most people are familiar with.

Here’s how to ensure you do your rapid antigen tests well, and to increase your chance of a meaningful result.

  1. Make sure you check the expiry date. Do not use a test kit that has expired. In cases where your test needs to be at room temperature for 30 minutes before you use it. Ensure you plan ahead.
  2. In case you are using a nasal swab, make sure you blow your nose before collecting the sample. In case you are using a saliva test, ensure that you do not eat or drink 10 minutes before collecting the sample and avoid contaminating the sample.
  3. Irrespective of which test you decide to use, all instructions in packs will ask you to clean a flat surface; wash or sanitize and dry your hands, and lay out the test items. Do not ever touch the business end of the swab ie the soft end that goes in your nose as doing that would contaminate it
  4. Ensure you put only a number of drops of the solution on the indicator device. Make sure you don’t extra for good luck.
  5. Make sure you read the results at the exact time the test instruction recommends. For instance, the instructions may ask you to read the result nothing less than 15 minutes after putting in the solution and no later than 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the result may no longer be valid.

After Testing:

When you have carried out your test, if you get a negative result and do not exhibit any symptoms of Covid then you are in the clear.

If however you have a negative result but have shown any of the Covid symptoms, take a PCR test to be sure you don’t have Covid and avoid contact with others while at it.

If your result comes out positive, follow up as soon as possible with a PCR test to confirm and self-isolate in the meantime.

Today could either order your antigen test kit here where you could get a 15 Minutes Rapid Antigen Test with Travel Certificate. We also carry out tests for Leaving the UK, Entering the UK, Same day Results, and tests for Work and events. You could also visit our Leicester clinic.

Test result provided by PHE/CQC approved UKAS accredited, ISO 15189 2012 Laboratory.
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