In Which Areas Is the COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Kit Used?
As the world has started to reopen public spaces and remove pandemic restrictions, public access to more convenient, affordable, frequent and faster testing options has grown more and more critical. Although tests based on nucleic acid amplification techniques, such as the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, have been widely used in the diagnosis of COVID-19 due to their proven clinical accuracy, the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) offer several unique advantages from a public health standpoint. In the form of point-of-care (POC) tests and self-tests, rapid antigen testing can enable convenient, frequent, fast, and affordable testing for institutions and individuals alike. Implemented for purposes of routine screening or contact tracing, these tests can facilitate immediate identification, isolation, and medical decision-making for positive cases in a wide variety of settings, including remote or resource-limited areas with insufficient access to laboratory equipment, trained personnel and other diagnostic options. Read along to find out more about the COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Kit and its use for routine screening and contact tracing in schools, workplaces, and other high-risk facilities, as well as for travel.
What is the COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Kit?
In a nutshell, SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test kits are rapid chromatographic immunoassays for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2-specific proteins, or antigens, present in human nasal, nasopharyngeal, or saliva specimen. Unlike PCR tests which detect genetic material, the rapid antigen tests utilize a particular set of antibodies which target abundantly expressed structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2 such as the nucleocapsid protein or the spike protein. Accordingly, whereas molecular tests require specialized equipment and trained personnel for its administration and procession, rapid antigen tests can be carried out outside of laboratory settings and minimal training, with results ready within 15 to 20 minutes.
How can the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit be used for testing in schools?
Rapid antigen tests (RATs) can be used for the implementation of serial screening testing among faculty members, students, and staff within institutions of education. Moreover, rapid antigen tests can be utilized for entry screening at the beginning of each term or prior to certain activities. Especially in regions with moderate, substantial, or high community transmission levels or low vaccine uptake, routine screening of at least those who are not fully vaccinated with rapid antigen tests can be an effective strategy to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Indeed, according to Losina et al. (2020), combined with extensive physical distancing and mandatory mask policies, 96% of infections could be prevented by serial screening testing on college campuses.
How can the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit be used for testing in the workplace?
In conjunction with other preventive measures such as physical distancing and mask policies, routine COVID-19 screening through rapid antigen testing can enable the timely identification and isolation of positive cases within the workplace. Indeed, serial rapid antigen testing has proved to offer a level of sensitivity and accuracy on par with molecular testing methods, even in the diagnosis of asymptomatic cases. Particularly in cases where employees reside in congregate settings or have prolonged contact with each other, implementation of routine testing can effectively reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Moreover, in workplaces involving populations at high-risk of developing severe disease, routine antigen testing can help facilitate a safer environment for everyone. Altogether, the implementation of routine COVID-19 screening through rapid antigen testing can help provide a safer workplace and keep businesses open.
How can the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit be used for travel?
Many countries around the world have removed international travel restrictions. However, several countries still require pre-departure and/or on-arrival testing for international travelers, especially visitors who are not fully vaccinated. Still, as testing policies vary significantly among different countries, make sure to check the specific requirements of your country of arrival beforehand. Indeed, whereas some countries accept negative rapid antigen tests results alongside PCR test results, some countries solely accept PCR test results for entry. For instance, in France and Spain, international travelers who are not fully vaccinated are required to present either a negative RT-PCR (NAAT) or rapid antigen test result before departure, while countries such as Russia, India, and Iran, accept exclusively PCR test results. The period of validity for test results also differs depending on the type of test and the specific testing policy. Where accepted, negative antigen test results are typically only valid for 24 to 48 hours after testing.
How can the COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit be used for testing in other high-risk areas?
The implementation of serial COVID-19 testing through rapid antigen tests within facilities and settings involving populations with high-risk of developing severe disease such as nursing homes, detention facilities, homeless shelters, and refugee encampments also proves to be a highly efficient strategy for lowering transmission and death rates. Indeed, it was reported that before the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, nursing homes represented around 5% of all U.S. COVID-19 cases but accounted for more than 1 in 3 of all deaths. Likewise, in detention facilities where individuals are more likely to have higher prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and insufficient access to care, routine antigen testing may be particularly effective in reducing transmission and severe disease. According to Mazilli et al. (2021), serial rapid antigen testing proves to be an effective method due to its high positive predictive value, convenience, and affordability. Finally, rapid antigen tests may be utile for the screening of refugees and other displaced populations which predominantly suffer from insufficient access to sanitation, clean water, infrastructure, medical care, and diagnostic testing capacity. As such, the COVID-19 pandemic remains as one of the greatest challenges for vulnerable populations around the world.
The implementation of COVID-19 screening through rapid antigen testing could help make testing more accessible and equitable by supporting innovative and decentralized strategies to diagnostic testing. Indeed, due to the simplicity, convenience, affordability, and fast results offered by these tests, rapid antigen testing can be effective not only in facilities with high risk of transmission and severe disease, but also for the screening of vulnerable populations with insufficient access to sanitation, medical care, and diagnostic services.
Our RapidFor™ SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit provides an accurate, simple, quick, affordable, and convenient option for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. As such, it proves to be a highly efficient diagnostic device for COVID-19 contact tracing and screening in schools, workplaces, resource-limited areas, and for international travel.
⦁ Losina, E., Leifer, V.P., Millham, L.R., Panella, C., Hyle, E.P., Mohareb, A.M., Neilan, A.M., Ciaranello, A.L., Kazemian, P., & Freedberg, K.A. (2020). College Campuses and COVID-19 Mitigation: Clinical and Economic Value. Annals of Internal Medicine.
⦁ Mazzilli, S., Oliani, F., Restivo, A., Giuliani, R., Tavoschi, L., & Ranieri, R. (2021). Antigenic rapid test for SARS-CoV2 screening of individuals newly admitted to detention facilities: sensibility in an asymptomatic cohort. Journal of Clinical Virology Plus, 1(1-2), 100019