Antigen Testing – What is it?

Covid Self Test

Have you ever wondered what separates an Antigen test from an RT-PCR/NAAT test? We have simplified it all for you! This article goes into depth about the science behind Antigen testing and how FastTest came about selecting the kit we did.  

Rapid Antigen testing is a method that detects proteins on the surface of the virus that are called antigens. The collection is done through a nasal or throat swab which is then added to a test reagent liquid. When inserting the sample into the cartridge, it is rotated three times to ensure the best testing results. The test strip within the device is covered in COVID-19 antibodies that specifically bind to the viral protein of the infection. There is an instrument also located on the strip that detects the COVID-19 protein binding, generating an objective visual result. 

So, how is it different from an RT-PCR/NAAT test? The biggest difference at first glance is the turnaround time and price point. RT-PCR/NAAT testing is molecular, it searches for any genetic material of the virus present, as opposed to Antigen, which only detects the external proteins of the virus. While, due to this, antigen testing is less sensitive than RT-PCR testing, it is more affordable and has a far quicker turnaround time. Within 15 minutes, you can find out whether or not you have COVID-19. This makes Rapid Antigen testing a great tool for point of care testing, making COVID-19 testing far more accessible to the general public. However, the sensitivity of the test is reliant on several factors, which is why countries tend to prefer RT-PCR/NAAT testing for their COVID-19 entry requirements.  

One of the main factors that impact testing results is the number of viral antigen content present in the individual. The peak for testing is five to seven days from seeing first symptoms. Sensitivity also decreases when the swab is not rotated well prior to closing the test card, or if the test is done an hour after sample collection. Here at FastTest, we know these limitations exist, which is why we work with only the most skilled healthcare professionals.  

All things considered, not all Antigen tests are created equal. Working with our trained healthcare professionals, as FastTest, we considered several Rapid Antigen kit options before selecting the one we use today. Our selection process began with choosing four different kits to test under different circumstances, in order to find the most reliable one. Ultimately, the option we chose was approved by a multitude of trained healthcare professionals, including registered nurses and lab technicians that have vast knowledge on the subject.  

When selecting which test to take, it is important to know the details of your options, as well as what the purpose of the test. We hope that this article helps clarify Rapid Antigen testing for you, so you can make a well-informed decision when choosing what is best for you. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us. 

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