FREE Standard shipping on orders >$89* (T&Cs apply). Order before 2pm Mon-Fri for same day dispatch

Why Rapid Antigen Tests Are Vital in Managing COVID-19 and Flu Outbreaks

Why Rapid Antigen Tests Are Vital in Managing COVID-19 and Flu Outbreaks

, by Aussie Pharma Direct, 6 min reading time

With a concerning spike in cases and hospitalisations unfolding in Australia due to the emergence of the new subvariant JN.1, the urgency of understanding and managing the evolving landscape of COVID-19 has once again come to the forefront. While categorised as "low risk" by the WHO, it's essential to recognise that any new variant still warrants vigilance. This is because what sets JN.1 apart as a sub-lineage of BA.2.86 is a single alteration in the spike protein of the virus, enhancing its ability to better evade our immune system. 

While ongoing research is shedding light on the characteristics of JN.1, it's essential to note that current evidence does not definitively suggest an increased risk of severe disease or distinct symptoms compared to previous strains. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have observed that COVID-19 symptoms generally remain consistent across variants. Moreover, they emphasise that the severity of symptoms is often more closely tied to an individual's immunity rather than the specific variant they encounter.

But despite the introduction of these new variants, the challenge remains unchanged: discerning between the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu.

Why distinguishing between COVID-19 and the flu matters

This is primarily due to the striking similarities in their common symptoms, which can complicate diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention. Both COVID-19 and the flu commonly present with symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, and respiratory issues. These overlapping symptoms make it challenging for individuals to discern whether they are experiencing a case of COVID-19, the flu, or another respiratory illness, without testing for them.

However, beyond the shared symptoms lies a crucial distinction in the potential severity of the illnesses, particularly for certain vulnerable groups. While the flu can certainly lead to severe complications, COVID-19 has demonstrated a propensity to affect individuals with compromised immunity or underlying health conditions more severely.

Role of rapid antigen tests in diagnosis

Rapid antigen tests serve as valuable tools for quickly detecting viral infections like COVID-19 and the flu. Their ability to deliver rapid results at the point of care facilitates timely diagnosis, enabling prompt initiation of treatment and implementation of infection control measures. 

Benefits of rapid antigen tests


Rapid antigen tests offer near-instantaneous results, providing a quick turnaround time for diagnosis. This rapidity is crucial for timely identification of viral infections like COVID-19 and the flu, enabling prompt implementation of necessary public health measures and patient management decisions.

Ease of Use:

Rapid antigen tests are user-friendly and do not require specialised training or equipment, making them accessible in various settings. Their simplicity makes them suitable for deployment in community testing sites, schools, workplaces, and even for at-home use. 

Combination Testing:

The development of combination rapid antigen tests allows for the simultaneous detection of multiple viruses, such as COVID-19 and influenza A/B. These tests streamline the diagnostic process by providing comprehensive results in a single test, eliminating the need for separate testing procedures for each virus. 

How do the rapid antigen tests work?

Rapid antigen tests function by detecting specific proteins, known as antigens, that are unique to the target virus. In the case of combination tests designed to detect both COVID-19 and influenza A/B, these tests typically target the nucleoprotein antigens associated with each virus.

Rapid antigen tests operate on the principle of immunoassay, utilising antibodies that specifically bind to the target antigens.

  • The antibodies are immobilised within the testing device and labeled with detectable markers, such as coloured particles or fluorescent molecules.
  • When the sample containing the target antigen is applied to the device, any present antigens bind to the labeled antibodies, forming antigen-antibody complexes.
  • These complexes then migrate along the testing device, where they are captured by additional immobilised antibodies, leading to the generation of visible signals that indicate a positive result.

You may have noticed some indications on the box packaging about the tests being high on sensitivity and specificity. But what do those mean actually? Sensitivity refers to the test's ability to correctly identify positive cases, while specificity denotes its ability to correctly identify negative cases.

These rapid antigen tests are usually engineered to provide high levels of accuracy, with sensitivity rates typically exceeding 90% and specificity rates surpassing 95% for both COVID-19 and influenza A/B. The high accuracy of these tests ensures reliable results, minimising the risk of false positives or false negatives.

Are these combo rapid antigen tests available in Australia?

Yes, rapid antigen tests for detecting both COVID-19 and influenza A/B are indeed available in Australia, offering a convenient and efficient solution for identifying respiratory infections. These tests are often imported from other countries and are subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure their safety and efficacy for use in Australia.

These rapid antigen tests are available both in the stores and online but it is important to note that the availability of these tests may vary, particularly given the current surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. At present, there is a notable demand for COVID-19 tests in Australia, resulting in limited supply in some regions, however, you can still access rapid antigen tests through online platforms, which offer a convenient and accessible way to procure these essential testing kits.

One such platform where rapid antigen tests are available is Aussie Pharma Direct, a trusted shopping platform that offers a range of TGA-approved testing kits. Among the rapid antigen tests available on Aussie Pharma Direct are Fanttest and Sonictec, providing individuals with reliable options for detecting both COVID-19 and influenza A/B infections.

Prioritise your health and stay informed

It's essential to stay vigilant about any changes in your health status and to promptly seek medical attention if you experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 or the flu. By being proactive in monitoring symptoms and seeking testing when warranted, you can contribute to early detection and intervention, ultimately minimising the risk of further transmission.

Which is why it is equally important is the need to stay informed about the latest guidance from healthcare authorities in Australia. As guidelines and recommendations may evolve in response to changing circumstances, it's essential to remain adaptable and flexible in your behaviours. This may involve adjusting your routines, following social distancing measures, practicing good hand hygiene, and wearing masks in settings where transmission risk is elevated


© 2024 Aussie Pharma Direct, Powered by Aussie Pharma Direct

    • American Express
    • Apple Pay
    • Google Pay
    • Mastercard
    • PayPal
    • Shop Pay
    • Union Pay
    • Visa


    Forgot your password?

    Don't have an account yet?
    Create account