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Covid Rapid Antigen Test at home

At-home Covid Rapid Antigen Tests Myths & Facts

, by AussiePharmaDirect, 3 min reading time

There are many misconceptions about at-home covid rapid antigen tests (RATs), so here are some myth-busters to rectify any confusion you may have.

Myths & facts about at-home Covid-19 rapid antigen tests

In the fight against Covid, it’s vital to separate facts from fiction. There are many misconceptions about at-home rapid antigen tests (RATs), so here are some myth-busters to rectify any confusion you may have.

Myth 1: You only need to take a Covid-19 test if you have symptoms

If you have Covid symptoms like fever, a sore throat, a runny nose, headache, body aches, loss of smell or taste, and nausea, then by all means, you should take a test, but there are less obvious reasons for getting tested.

If you attend a large gathering or spend time in a crowded indoor space, then it is wise to do a RAT in case you have inadvertently been a close contact of someone with Covid.

Another good reason to get tested is if you find out you have spent time with someone with Covid. The NSW Government asks people with Covid to tell the people they have spent time with from two days before their symptoms appeared, or two days before they tested positive (whichever came first).

And if you want to visit someone who is elderly or immunocompromised and want to protect them – even if you don’t feel sick, the responsible thing to do is to do a rapid home test to ensure you don’t accidently expose them to the virus.

Myth 2: A negative test gives you a free pass

Unfortunately, rapid antigen tests are not foolproof as the accuracy depends on your viral load at the time that you take the test. You may test negative one day, and then test positive the next as the RAT requires a certain amount of virus to be present before it can detect it.

With the rapid rise of the BA.4 and BA. 5 variants of Omicron, being on the front foot and proactive about protecting yourself and others is the way to go says Daniel Seldon from Aussie Pharma Direct.

“Now, more than ever, we all need to step up our vigilance, to keep wearing face masks, ensuring vaccination boosters are up to date, regularly washing our hands, or using an effective hand sanitiser, plus of course, undertaking RATs as often as required,” he says.

Myth 3: What I eat or drink before taking a rapid antigen test affects the result

If you are using a saliva, rather than a nasal RAT, then yes, this myth is actually correct. NSW Health recommends you do not brush your teeth, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before doing a saliva RAT as the residue in your mouth may coat the swab stick and affect the test result.

Myth 4: The results of a rapid antigen test will be accurate, even if I don’t strictly follow the instructions

It is imperative to strictly follow the instructions as deviations can invalidate the test. For example, with the Sonictec COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, and the Australian made InnoScreen COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test you need to add exactly 3 drops of the extracted specimen into the sample well of the cassette device by gently squeezing the sample tube whilst the swab is in there. Then you have to wait 15 minutes for the result. More or less specimen or time will skew the results and you will have to re-take the test to be sure you receive an accurate result.

Recently, there’s been reports of some RATs being pulled from shelves because they don’t pick up the new strains of Omicron, so make sure you choose one like Sonictec that has been proven to work.

“News reports are saying we are coming into the third wave of Omicron, but if you take precautions and keep maintaining all the recommended protocols, then you are giving yourself the best chance of staying safe and healthy,” concludes Seldon.


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