Why the rapid antigen test is a revolution to the Covid-19 testing landscape

An antigen test detects ongoing Covid-19 infections by identifying the presence or absence of antigen.
An antigen test detects ongoing Covid-19 infections by identifying the presence or absence of antigen.

At the current phase of the Corona pandemic, the need for an efficient screening method to detect infection carriers is larger than ever. Noviral meets this need by adding a rapid antigen test of highest quality to its Covid-19 test portfolio. 

Why rapid antigen tests disrupt the Covid-19 testing landscape 

The implementation of a nationwide testing programme has been a critical aspect to successfully deal with the Corona pandemic – not least as widespread testing is decisive to knowing if, when and how people can return to their normal life. Many countries have set ambitious targets for testing but have in many cases failed, partly due to the fact that the tests used for screening require large resources and are very time consuming. As we are gradually returning to normal, the need for an efficient screening tool that quickly can identify who is infected with the virus is larger than ever. A rapid antigen test could be the solution helping testing programmes to expand. We’ll explain why: 

Throughout the pandemic, PCR testing has been the most common way to test for active SARS-CoV-2 infection. The turnaround time for a PCR test is usually days, sometimes stretching up to four days. The long time gap between when a test is taken and when the test results are provided is a result of the large resources and lab capacity PCR testing requires and implies a great risk for the society. If an infection carrier is not diagnosed immediately, we face a huge challenge in breaking infection chains. 

Rapid antigen tests, that do neither require lab capacity nor specialized equipment, have a turnaround time of 15 minutes and can thereby facilitate patient treatment decisions much quicker. This allows to prevent the infection from spreading to a much larger extent. As rapid antigen testing is easy to perform and does not need any additional equipment, the testing can be performed on a wider scale without it affecting the turnaround time.  

Another critical aspect that determines the ability to apply large scale testing programmes is the cost of doing so. Rapid antigen tests are in comparison to PCR tests much cheaper, mostly due to the fact that it requires less resources and labor. If you combine that with the fact that screening for ongoing infections is most useful if tests can be taken frequently, you have a more sustainable testing programme financially and logistically if you use rapid antigen tests over PCR tests. 

The main selling points with rapid antigen tests are that they are faster, easier to use and cheaper than the comparable PCR test. If and when rapid antigen tests become widely available, the landscape for Covid-19 is likely to change. 

What is an antigen test? When should it be used and why?

An antigen test detects ongoing Covid-19 infections by identifying the presence or absence of antigen. An antigen is a substance recognized by the body’s immune system, which can then respond by generating antibodies that recognize that antigen. The very purpose of the test is to detect the presence of nucleocapsid protein which is part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing Covid-19. The antigen tests should be taken within 5 days after the outbreak of symptoms and identifies if a person is currently infected with Covid-19. 

In order to make the assay, a healthcare professional takes a sample of mucus from the back of the patient’s nose using a swab and then follows an easy 5 step process. Once the 5 steps are conducted, the test result is visible on a test cassette after 15 minutes. The test uses antibodies to search for protein embedded in the SARS-CoV-2 surface. If the antibodies detect viral protein in the sample, the person is most likely carrying the coronavirus. 

Testing with an antigen test is useful if the person being tested experiences symptoms that aligns with the symptoms of Covid-19. To have the best chance of identifying antigens, the test should be taken the days following the first outbreak of symptoms. 

How is the test performed?

The test process starts with a medical professional taking a sample from the nostril using a swab. The swab is then dipped into a buffer solution that resolves the mucus collected from the patient and releases the virus. 

The buffer solution is then applied to the test cassette. If there are any coronavirus proteins in the sample, the antibodies will stick to them. 

After 15 minutes the test result will be revealed through red lines on the test cassette. If the result is valid, a red line will turn up on the line marked with a C (control line). If the patient is currently infected with the virus, a red line will appear next to the line marked with a T. 

Since late July, Noviral offers a rapid POC antigen test that is easy to use and has a very high quality. Please contact us if you wish to get more information about the test by clicking the below  button: 

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