Are Covid-19 Rapid Test Kits Reliable?

How Do Rapid Test Kits Work?

As the Covid-19 pandemic has become a reality with which the entire world has had to learn to live with, the different testing capabilities have become an important part of life. As soon as we feel a cold or flu coming on, our first thoughts are usually “Could I have Covid?”. Finding out whether or not the headache that has been persisting for the entire day could be Covid is extremely important to both you and those around you. From the early days of the pandemic, where tests were hard to come by and only done if you could get your hands on a testing kit, to today, where there are different options to consider and easy ways that you can find out whether or not you have picked up the virus! 

One of the most common tests available on the market today are the rapid test kits, and these tests can be performed by you in the comfort of your own home or at your nearest testing site. These tests take far less time to give you results, which makes them a great test to use. The reliability of rapid test kits depends a lot on you, or the person performing the test, getting a good sample to test within the antigen device. While PCR tests are designed to pick up on the RNA that the Covid-19 virus is made up of, the rapid test kits, or antigen tests, pick up on your bodies response to the potential virus, the components that they test are referred to as antibodies and they are how our bodies develop a response to the virus. 

While the rapid antigen test kit accuracy percentage is less reliable than PCR tests, which pick up on even the smallest amount of the virus that may be in your body, the antigen tests are reliable when you have had symptoms and can be sure that your body has developed some sort of response to Covid-19. If the antigen test comes back positive, it means that your body has developed a response and is working to kill the Covid-19 virus in your body. If it is negative, it may mean that your body has not yet developed the antibody response or that you do not have it. This is why it is important to only take the antigen test if you have had symptoms of Covid-19. 

What Should Be Considered When Using Rapid Test Kits?

Many people ask the question “are rapid test kits accurate?” and while they are accurate majority of the time, these rapid test kits are not as accurate as the PCR test. Due to the fact that the rapid test kits measure your body's response and not the actual virus, it depends entirely on whether or not your body has started to respond and create the antibodies necessary to fight off the disease. 

If you take the test too early, your body's response may not yet have developed the antibodies that are tested and needed to fight the virus, meaning the test would come back negative even if you do have the virus. In saying this, if you take the test after your symptoms have developed and persisted, the rapid test kit's accuracy is heightened and you can be almost certain that the results you get are correct. It is important to consider whether you have symptoms or if you have just been in contact with a person who has tested positive, as this impacts the reliability of the test. 

If you do not yet have symptoms, it means that your body is not yet fighting the virus and the test will not be able to pick up on any antibodies, because you have not yet developed them. In this instance, it may be better to rather go for the PCR test or wait to see whether you develop any symptoms, but remember that you need to isolate and stay away from your family and loved ones because you could still be contagious without having any symptoms. 

What are the Conveniences of Rapid Test Kits?

The rapid test kits are far more convenient than the PCR alternative! The antigen tests are generally easier to get and can even be purchased and taken in the comfort of your own home, just be sure to do the test correctly if you are doing it on yourself! These kinds of tests are also becoming the more readily available and easily accessible tests to have! With you being able to purchase them at your local pharmacy, you can be sure that you have a few on hand if you start to feel unwell, ensuring that you can quickly do a test and get the results before you expose those around you. 

One of the most convenient things about the rapid test kits is that the results are given to you in around 10-30 minutes. While the timeframe for PCR results has gotten quicker, they still require around 24 to 48 hours to get the results back in as the samples need to be looked at by lab technicians who know what to look for. The simple antigen rapid test kits can be easily read with results back to you in around 10-30 minutes! If you are feeling sick and are not sure whether you should be going to work or to school, having one of the rapid test kits on hand could ensure that you are equipped with the information you need to make an informed choice! 

Are Rapid Test Kits Reliable?

All in all, the rapid test kits have been determined to be a reliable way to find out whether or not you have Covid-19! The effectiveness and reliability of the tests increases the longer you have had symptoms and it is a great way to get a quick result if you have been feeling a bit under the weather. If you are concerned that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, but have not yet had any symptoms, it may be a better idea to get a PCR test done, as this test measures the presence of the actual disease rather than your body's response to it. 

As rapid tests can give you the results in under 30 minutes, they are extremely useful when it comes to getting the vital information you need and whether or not you have Covid-19. With these being easy to purchase, easy to do yourself and reliable, they are slowly becoming the preferred choice when it comes to testing for Covid-19.

For further  information, please visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or your Local state and territory health departments website. 

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