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How to Choose the Best Rapid Antigen Test

Regularly testing your COVID status is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus. Rapid Antigen Tests are a popular choice because of their convenience and speed.

While there are multiple kinds of COVID-19 testing options available, the Rapid Antigen Test, otherwise known as the Lateral Flow antigen test, is one of the most common.

With a Rapid Antigen Test you can get quick insights into whether you might be infected with COVID-19. These at-home tests can be a convenient and quick solution for all kinds of situations. You can take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to determine whether you’re safe to travel, or use one to determine whether your symptoms may indicate covid-19 infection that require you to seek the guidance of a doctor.

However, as Covid continues to emerge as a common part of our everyday lives, the number of companies producing solutions for at-home testing is increasing. There are now several different “RAT” tests on the market, and it’s not always easy to determine which one can be trusted.

Below, we’ll share some of our best advice for choosing a reliable Rapid Antigen Test, and to make sure you get the most accurate results.

Are Rapid Antigen Tests Regulated?

Often, the easiest way to determine whether you’re going to get reliable results from a test, is to see whether it has been approved by a government body, such as the Federal Drug Authority (FDA).

Lateral flow antigen test, or Rapid Antigen Tests are an approved way of testing whether your symptoms (such as a cough or fever) are caused by the presence of the COVID-19 virus in your body. These tests are one of the most popular ones on the market today because they allow you to process your own sample at home, without the need for any laboratory equipment.

Because lateral flow tests are performed at home, they’re naturally more prone to error than tests conducted in a clinical setting. Regulated tests, however, are more likely to deliver accurate results than non-regulated alternatives, because they’ve been validated  and approved by a government agency such as FDA.

34 antigen tests have been authorised by the FDA at the time of writing. These include over the counter tests: You can find a complete list of all over-the-counter diagnostic tests approved for use at home by the FDA here.

The FDA also authorised a number of COVID-19 tests under the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) towards the beginning of the pandemic. If you research your test and discover it has an EUA, this means it’s not officially approved by the FDA, but may be suitable for use in emergency situations. EUA designations means the test meets certain criteria, especially when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.

Which Rapid Antigen Test Should You Use? Factors to Consider

FDA approved Rapid Antigen Tests available today have been thoroughly tested for accuracy. This should ensure you get results you can trust regardless of which company you choose to buy from. If you’re struggling to make the right choice, here are some points you may want to consider before purchase:

Should You Use an At-Home or In-Clinic Test?

While Rapid Antigen Tests are designed to be simple enough you can conduct the test yourself at home, there are some pharmacies, clinics, and similar environments capable of performing the test for you. If you’re concerned about using the test on your own without guidance, you may want to look into professionally delivered testing instead.

Keep in mind, having a professional perform your test could mean extra time and money for the service. However, this could be valuable if you’re testing for a specific purpose, such as ensuring you can safely travel to a different country.

How Quickly Will You Get the Results?

A Rapid Antigen Test or lateral flow test is designed to give you results immediately. However, there are some variations of lateral flow tests which allow you to double-check your results by sending your swab to a lab to be professionally analysed.

If you’re going to be sending your test anywhere, you’ll need to make sure you’ll be able to see the results as quickly as possible.

How Easy is the Test?

Simplicity is often important when you’re doing something yourself, without the assistance of a medical professional. With that in mind, look for a test which provides clear instructions you can easily follow. Usually, your Rapid Antigen Test will need a simple nasal swab.

If you have issues with tests that require you to swab all the way at the back of the nasal cavity, you may want to look into alternative options, such as saliva-based testing. However, it’s worth remembering that a deeper swab may be more reliable, sensitive and consistent.

How Reputable is the Company?

Just as you might search for a company online and check social media reviews when you’re buying a new appliance, or purchasing a service, you should also check the reputation of your test provider. Although reviews may be limited for some newer companies, you should be able to find at least some information about the brand by searching online.

If you can’t find any information at all about a test provider, it might be worth looking at a better-known brand, for peace of mind.

How Much Does it Cost?

Although purchasing price might not be the most important point to consider when choosing something as important as the right Rapid Antigen Test, it’s still a crucial consideration. In some cases, it can be nerve-wracking to purchase the least expensive test, as you may assume this means the product is less reliable.

Try matching the cost of the test to the reviews and information you can find about the brand online. An affordable test doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get accurate results.

Quick Tips for Getting an Accurate Result

Notably, the company responsible for creating your COVID lateral flow test can only provide the tools you need. It’s still up to you to ensure you’re taking steps to ensure an accurate result. Before you begin your test, make sure you:

·         Check the expiry date: Most Rapid Antigen Tests will come with expiry dates. Do not use a test beyond its expiry date, and make sure the test has been properly stored to reduce the rate of expiration. For instance, some tests need to be stored at room temperature.

·         Prepare the test correctly, and take your time: If your test involves a nasal swab, blow your nose before you collect the sample. If you’re using a test which collects saliva, don’t drink or eat anything 10 minutes before taking the sample, as this can lead to contamination.

·         Use a clean, flat surface: Avoid contaminating the sample by using a clean flat surface when collecting your sample. Sanitize your hands before you begin the testing process, and don’t touch the end of the swab responsible for collecting your sample.

·         Follow the instructions carefully: If you’ve done your research and selected a Rapid Antigen Test with easy-to-follow instructions, you should ensure you’re actually following those instructions. Read through the guidelines a couple of times, just in case.

·         Read the results at the right time: Check the results at the time recommended. Sometimes waiting too long can lead to inaccurate results, just as reading the results too quickly can be misinterpreted.

Making the Most of Your Rapid Antigen Test

Keep in mind, no test is 100% reliable, so a false negative or a false positive doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t trust the same test provider again in the future.

For example, perhaps you got a false negative because it was too soon in your COVID-19 status to take a test.

If you’re not sure what a test result means, or you’re concerned the test might not be giving accurate results, you should speak to a healthcare provider. Your doctor will be able to conduct a test for you and provide you with a reliable result, as well as advice on what to do next if you’re experiencing symptoms.

How can you make the most of your Rapid Antigen Test kits that you buy? For starters, you could ask a healthcare professional to show you how to conduct the test properly, if the instructions are confusing you. This way, you’ll know going forward how to conduct these tests by yourself. As mentioned above, it’s very important to take your time, prepare the test correctly, and follow the instructions meticulously. 

Do you want the convenience of having fast and trustworthy Rapid Antigen Tests on-hand in your home? Explore the variety of reliable COVID-19 testing solutions from Project Screen, and get reliable COVID tests to use regularly at-home for peace of mind or pre-departure testing for your travel plans.

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