Antigen Test

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The Covid Antigen Test

The Rapid Test to check for the presence of COVID can be carried out in pharmacies, specialized laboratories and clinics, or at home. In addition to reporting the presence of the viral infection, the rapid test is required by law in some instances: to enter hospitals and private health facilities or for international travel.

Find out on this page what it is, how the rapid antigen test and how reliable it is.

Mother testing her child for covid at home with an Antigen Test to prove a negative result.

The Rapid Covid Test and its reliability

Compared to the molecular test, which has more significant reliability than 99%, rapid tests have different levels of reliability.

Although the rapid antigen test is generally more than 90% reliable, there are also products on the market with 50% reliability. If you buy an antigen self-test, always check that it complies with the directives the European Community provides through the presence of the CE mark. In case of doubt, it is always better to rely on specialized operators, making a quick test at the pharmacy or, in any case, at dedicated facilities.

The Covid Antigen Test and False Negatives

While reliable, the Rapid Covid Test can give false negatives. It means the test result is negative, even if the infection is ongoing. This can happen when the viral load is low or when too little time has passed since the infection, for example, if you test in the first two days after exposure to the virus.

What to do if the Covid Antigen Test is negative

In general, a negative rapid test means that there is no COVID-19 infection present. If in doubt or if you have symptoms, it is recommended to repeat the test after a couple of days.

Rapid Covid Test: how does it work?

The COVID-19 Rapid Test detects specific antibodies produced by the body in reaction to the proteins present on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This test can be called oropharyngeal because it takes a small amount of mucus from the pharynx through the nose and, in some cases, even through the mouth. It is, therefore, different from the molecular buffer, which is a quantitative buffer, because it also detects the amount of viral load. It is also referred to as a qualitative buffer because it offers a "yes or no" response.

Covid Antigen Tests in Italian pharmacies

As the name implies, the Rapid Test in pharmacies in Italy is fast: in fact, the results are generally available in 15 minutes, compared to the 24-48 hours provided by the molecular PCR Test.

To make an antigen test at the pharmacy, it is advisable to book an appointment to avoid queues. In most cases, pharmacies have an external point or a separate entrance to do the test. The operator uses protective measures: gloves, visors, masks, and protective suits.

Where to do the rapid test? On faiuntestevai, you can easily find the nearest place in Italy to do the quick test.

When to do a Covid self-test?

The antigen self-test is very useful for quickly identifying a covid point infection in general. It should be done in the following cases:

  • After a suspected infection, even if you have no symptoms;
  • For preventive purposes, for example, before a meeting with many people, such as a party, a dinner, or if they are in contact with immunosuppressed or frail people;
  • When you have symptoms attributable to the infection: for example, cough, cold, shortness of breath, fever or muscle aches.

How to do an Antigen Test?

The Antigen Test in the pharmacy is carried out in a simple way: it is carried out while seated, lowering the head backwards and remaining still. The operator inserts a sterile cotton swab into one nostril and then into another, taking a small amount of fluid and inserting it into the virus detection kit. The outcome is available in 15 minutes.

Both in the event of a positive or negative outcome, the result of the Test is recorded on the pharmacy portal. It is communicated electronically to the ASL of reference, determining the process for isolation, quarantine and confirmation of healing through another Test.

In most cases, the test is paid for by presenting the health card at the pharmacy. The costs vary according to the age of the test: for example, children and the elderly pay less or are exempt.

Covid self-testing and at-home Tests

Thanks to its low cost, the possibility of doing it in the comfort of your home, and the rapidity of results, the rapid antigen self-test is widely used to detect any COVID-19 infections.

These tests can be purchased in pharmacies and other outlets such as haberdashery supermarkets and parapharmacies. The cost is variable but still lower than the cost of the Antigen Test that is made in the pharmacy and, above all, the cost of the molecular PCR Test.

The rapid self-test is sold in a single-use package that contains:

  • the sterile swab;
  • the test tube in which to insert the fluid withdrawn;
  • detailed instructions;
  • the control kit;
  • An air-tight resealable sachet to insert the pad to be thrown away.

How to test for Covid at-home

The procedure for making this test is simple, but you must follow all the steps carefully.

Here are the general indications:

  • Wash your hands carefully before and after the swab;
  • Insert the stick in one nostril and then in the other, up to about 2 cm deep, rotating it about 10 times per nostril;
  • Immerse the stick in the tube by turning it for at least 15 seconds;
  • Pour a few drops of fluid from the test tube onto the kit's control box: it is usually indicated by the letter T;
  • Wait 15 minutes and read the result.

What to do in the event of a positive Antigen Test

If the Rapid Test is positive, it means that the body is infected with COVID-19. Therefore, you must comply with the legal indications, especially the rules on isolation and quarantine, testing quickly after at least 5 days to confirm recovery.

How to be sure the quick test is positive

The control kit has two boxes: a check box marked with the letter C and one for the result marked with the letter T.

Here's how to interpret the result:

  • Positive result: both the boxes have a coloured line.
  • Negative result: box C has a coloured line, and box T is white.
  • Test to be redone: box C is white. In this case, you have to retest by buying another kit.

For further reading about Rapid Covid Test, please check NHS

Written by Dr. Andleeb Asghar | Last updated on 10/19/22

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