Facts About Antigen TestingAugust 19, 2020 12:32 pm
Though we are now months into our fight against the coronavirus, many people still have a lot of questions and uncertainties about COVID-19 testing and if and when they should get tested. Should I get an antibody test, or an antigen test? Is it worth getting tested if I don’t receive my results for a week? How accurate are these tests anyway? Can I rely on them if I am going to visit an elderly family member? Feeling this way is completely justified, as the science and debate around the accuracy of antigen tests in detecting COVID-19 has been consistently evolving since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Generally speaking, the rapid antigen tests are considered less reliable than molecular tests, which often take days for results to be returned from a lab, but this may all change with newly released data surrounding Quidel Corporation’s Sofia SARS Antigen FIA test. This is big news for the general public and urgent care providers alike as it could greatly increase the capability and accuracy of our current COVID-19 testing options.
What is an antigen test?
Antigen tests for COVID-19 are designed to detect certain proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus. These tests are done with a fluid sample swabbed from the nose or throat.
What is the difference between antigen tests and molecular tests like PCR tests?
While antigen tests look for proteins found on the virus, molecular tests detect genetic material of the virus through a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR.) PCR tests are also done with a nasal or throat swab.
PCR tests are generally considered more accurate than antigen tests, with less of a chance of returning false negative results than antigen tests, but PCR tests are more expensive and are often sent to outside labs, which delays the return of results.
How accurate is Quidel’s antigen test?
Antigen tests have been considered less sensitive than PCR tests, but that may change with new information released by Quidel from studies on their Sofia SARS Antigen FIA. The newly reported data shows this antigen test—which in May was the first such test to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA—to have a 96.7% sensitivity within five days of the onset of symptoms. This sensitivity, if correct, puts the accuracy of this antigen test on almost on par with PCR tests. Quidel reports that the specificity for their antigen test is 100% meaning that a positive test is definitely a positive.
Should I get tested for COVID-19?
Along with practicing responsible social distancing, getting tested for COVID-19 if you think you have been exposed is a smart choice to make in an effort to subdue the spread of the virus. With the increased sensitivity of the Sofia SARS Antigen FIA test, you can receive same day results, and feel more confident in the accuracy of the results, which can be valuable in informing decisions about meeting with others, traveling or other social distancing decisions.
Where can I get an antigen test for COVID-19?
The Sofia SARS Antigen FIA test is available at Central Jersey Urgent care locations and provides results within hours. The increased accuracy of these tests means there is less of a need to confirm negative results with a molecular test and patients can feel much more confident in their rapid test results. Call us today to schedule an appointment for an easy test with rapid results.
Is it important to confirm a negative antigen test result with another test?
At Central Jersey Urgent Care/My InstaDoc Urgent Care, we are still confirming the negative results with a RT- PCR test because many state departments of health have still not issued guidance stating that this practice is unnecessary. It is important to obtain all results in a timely fashion, so Central Jersey Urgent Care/My InstaDoc has developed an online portal for patients to review and print their results for the RT-PCR test. Our laboratory partners get even these results back within two to three days.
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This post was written by CJ Urgent Care of NJ