The pandemic has led to a big demand for rapid antigen tests, which can detect whether someone is infectious with the disease. But how accurate are these tests? Do they miss some infections? And what does that mean for people who test negative? In this blog post, we will explore the accuracy of rapid antigen tests in Australia. We will also look at some of the potential problems with these tests and what you should do if you test positive or negative.
What are rapid antigen tests?
TGA Rapid antigen tests are a type of diagnostic test that can be used to detect the presence of an infection in patients. The test is usually performed by taking a swab from the patient’s nose or throat and testing it for the presence of antigens, which are proteins that are produced by the body in response to an infection.
There are several different types of rapid antigen tests available, but they all work in essentially the same way. The test kit contains a strip of paper that is coated with antibodies that bind to specific antigens. When the swab from the patient’s nose or throat is added to the strip, if there are any antigens present, they will bind to the antibodies and produce a visible reaction.
The results of a rapid antigen test can be available within minutes, which makes them useful for diagnosis in settings where speed is important, such as emergency departments or primary care clinics. However, because they are not as accurate as some other types of diagnostic tests, they are usually only used to screen patients who are suspected of having an infection.
How accurate are they in Australia?
There are a number of different types of rapid antigen tests (RATs) available in Australia. Each type of RAT has its own accuracy.
One study that compared the accuracy of four different types of RATs found that the Accutest Rapid Antigen Test Kit had the highest overall accuracy, with a sensitivity of 96.7% and a specificity of 99.2%.1
Another study that looked at the specificity of three different brands of RATs found that the Accutest Rapid Antigen Test Kit had the highest specificity, at 99.6%.2
Overall, it seems that RATs are quite accurate when used in Australia. However, it is important to remember that no test is 100% accurate, and false positives and false negatives can occur with any test.
Who should get tested?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested as soon as possible. This is especially important if you have been in close contact with someone who has the virus.
Rapid antigen tests are most accurate when done within the first 5 days of having symptoms. However, they can still be useful after this time. If you have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, you should get tested even if you do not have symptoms.
When should you get tested?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the timing of a rapid antigen test will depend on individual circumstances. However, it is generally recommended that people get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the disease or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
What if the test is positive?
If the test is positive, this means that you have the virus and are infectious. You will need to isolate at home immediately and arrange to get a confirmatory PCR test.
What if the test is negative?
If the test is negative, it means that you do not have COVID-19. However, it is possible for the test to give a false negative result. This can happen if you are tested too early in your infection, or if your infection is very mild. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get another test.
All in all, rapid antigen tests are a helpful tool in the fight against COVID-19, but they are not perfect. There is always a chance of false negatives, and it is important to remember that even if you test negative, you could still be infected and should take precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing. However, rapid antigen tests are much faster and more convenient than other types of testing, so they can be useful in many situations.