Scientists and doctors around the world are finding ways to fight the contagious coronavirus. Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Tests are being used widely around the globe. Developments in the medical field are taking place every day and hopefully, they’ll find more accurate and better ways to detect the coronavirus. Antigens tests are being used for many years in detecting flu, and respiratory issues. Second wave of corona is fretting and thus need for Antigen Tests has increased.
What is An Antigen Test for Covid-19?
An Antigen test or Rapid test for Covid-19 is a way of detecting protein fragments (antigen) from the coronavirus present in individuals that have been suspected of COVID-19. The use of this test is purely for clinical purposes.
Where can this test be conducted?
An Antigen test for Covi-19 can only be done under a doctor’s surveillance, so it has to be conducted in a clinic, hospital, or a doctor’s office. For now, there are no permissions to conduct the test at home or by self.
How long does it take for the results to appear?
Antigen tests are referred to as rapid tests because you can receive the diagnostic results within 15 minutes from the test. As soon as an individual is detected positive, he/she can be quarantined and treated at earlier stages further preventing the spread of the virus.
Which Kit is Being Used for The Antigen Test?
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has only permitted the use of S D Biosensor (Korean company) kits for detecting antigens. The name of the kit is Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit which includes-
- A Covid-19 antigen test device
- Viral extraction tube with viral lysis buffer
- Sterile swab for sample collection
How Antigen Test is Done?
Coronavirus impacts the respiratory system of an individual to a great extent. Since the virus finds its pathway through the nose, mouth or another direct contact, these are the peak areas for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Antigen test determines if the virus is present in an individual by taking a sample of the respiratory droplets from the upper respiratory tract.
These respiratory droplets are swabbed from nasal and oral tracts according to instructions which are then put in a viral transport medium and brought to the lab.
The color changes to yellow if tested positive.
Rapid Antigen Test v/s RT-PCR Test
According to scientists, Rapid Antigen Tests are less accurate as compared to RT PCR Test.
RT-PCR tests have a higher amplification tendency to ‘intensify’ viral RNA during the detection process, but antigen tests do not amplify the detected protein. Hence the sensitivity of RT-PCR is considered higher than Rapid Antigen Test.
But then why is RT-PCR not being used as much as the Rapid Antigen Test? This is because the availability of RT-PCR tests is not enough to cater to such a huge population. They were priced at a price of Rs.4500 which got reduced to Rs.2500 but is still expensive. It also takes longer (2-5 days) than Antigen tests and requires specialized centers whereas RAT’s require fewer skills and equipment which makes them cheaper and easy to perform. To control the growing number of cases, it is better to implement something than to wait for a miracle to happen.
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If I am tested negative after Rapid Antigen Test, are there still chances of infection?
There is no such guarantee. If you have been tested negative, you might still be on the verge of spreading infection. Therefore, to make up for an antigen test, additional factors like the patient's medical history, clinical symptoms, and other tests should also be considered. The Wellness Corner’s Covid-19 symptom tracker will let you check if there are any chances you are at a risk of infection and in case you aren’t feeling well you are strictly advised to go see a doctor.
With the advancements in rapid testing, Rapid testing is being implemented at a few airports, and it is also being proposed for all the airports and hotel openings. Though their efficiency is not as much as PCR tests, due to the urgent need for critical diagnostics, and to prevent the spread of this deadly disease, Antigen tests are beneficial.