At-Home Rapid Antigen Test Kits
With the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, many terms we have been not familiar at first have entered our lives. Most of these terms are related to the diagnostical methods and tools regarding COVID-19. One of them is at-home antigen rapid test kits. If you wonder what they are and how they work, you may like this article.
At-home rapid antigen tests by definition
At-home rapid antigen tests are the self-administered tests in other words “do it yourself (DIY) tests”. They check for an active infection by detecting SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – specific viral proteins called antigens. They deliver results within 10 to 30 minutes on the spot. It is because there is no such requirement to send the samples to a lab. Therefore, at-home rapid antigen tests provide results significantly quicker than real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests. RT-PCR tests generally take from 6 to 18 hours to result, even three days in a busy interval.
Further, the procedure involves the use of simpler material. The procedure includes and needs only one cassette, one swab, and one tube with extraction buffer. There is no requirement for additional lab analysis or expert supervision, unlike real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. At-home rapid antigen tests are more appropriate for self-administration. In addition, they are also typically less costly to manufacture and purchase than real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.
The simplicity of the procedure
While at-home rapid antigen tests can be acquired with or without a prescription depending on the particular test, they are easily available for over-the-counter and online purchases. Once an at-home rapid antigen test kit is purchased, all the required material and instructions to perform the test procedure are provided within the product box. At-home rapid antigen tests can safely be performed on children as young as two years old under adult surveillance. These tests typically require the user to collect a sample by inserting a nasal swab into the nostrils. However, unlike the nasopharyngeal swab administered by healthcare professionals, during this procedure the sampling tool does not need to be inserted as far back behind the nose, it requires to smear only 2.5 centimeters. Altogether, the user can perform the procedure of the test without the need for a healthcare professional.
Advantages of at-home rapid antigen test kits
Although the authorities still widely accepted real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing as “the golden standard” due to its high level of accuracy, rapid antigen testing has a considerable number of advantages. First, rapid antigen testing is less accurate than molecular tests however it provides high accuracy – over 95% usually- contrary to popular belief. It is also simple to use, you can do the point-of-care testing by using it and serves as a cost-effective testing method for the diagnosis of COVID-19 than molecular testing or namely real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, allowing its usage to be very wide-ranging. Their specificity and sensitivity, on the other hand, are of the highest quality.
The most appropriate use of point of care rapid antigen test implementation is the screening of certain demographic groups. Certainly, health authorities suspect new infections of COVID-19 within groups. However, this calls for repeated tests. Testing travel passengers at airports can be a way for further screening. The best possible viable alternative for widespread screening programs is rapid antigen testing in the general population. While this might seem to be a calling approach for containment actions, it should not overlook the linked obstacles and make efficiency unclear.
Their role on massive screening programs
The testing of massive screening programs by rapid antigen tests, to detect the asymptomatic people and the breakage of transmission chains continues to be a focus of the worldwide action against the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of at-home rapid antigen test kits, you can be a part of these massive COVID-19 screening programs in your comfortable environment of a house, and without the need for healthcare professionals. Basically, you can be a part of the control mechanism against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, without leaving your comfort zone.
Here is the scenario that illustrates the advantages and benefits. Hypothetically speaking, you have an infection of SARS-CoV-2, but you have not been displaying the symptoms yet. In this case, we can consider you as an “asymptomatic patient”. You heard the news about your colleague has the SARS-CoV-2 infection and you should test yourself as contact tracing. Without an at-home rapid antigen test kit, you have to go to a real-time polymerase chain (PCR) testing laboratory. To clarify, you go to the center by using public transformation and/or mingle with the people. Unfortunately, you are a risk factor to other people for spreading SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection. At-home rapid antigen test kits eliminate this risk. After you tested as positive, you can start your self-isolation or namely quarantine period at your home. Therefore, you are with your clear conscience by knowing you have performed your best to the public benefit.
To be honest
Despite their relative lack of accuracy compared to real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), at-home rapid antigen tests offer significant advantages in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the routine use of these tests could help curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and prevent people from unknowingly spreading the virus, by informing people on time and allowing infected individuals to go into self-quarantine and access care earlier.
Further, at-home rapid antigen tests can help society regain a sense of normalcy. They make it possible by enabling people to determine if their symptoms occur due to a common cold or a COVID-19 infection. At-home rapid antigen tests are useful for rapid screening at a mass scale. They constitute a relatively cheaper, portable, and rapid option, and routine testing helps their accuracy to the maximum. Consequently, at-home rapid antigen tests are convenient for the COVID-19 screening of large groups and various institutions such as schools and businesses. Last, the use of at-home rapid antigen tests could help reduce the risk factor faced by the healthcare workers. It is because they administer real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.