What is a Rapid Antigen Test?

As the name suggests, a rapid antigen test determines whether or not the sample provided contains any antigens for the disease being tested for. Antigens refer to the substances within our body that elicit an immune response to certain germs or diseases. These responses then induce the production of antibodies, which help your body to ward off infection and fight against diseases. A rapid antigen test works by testing as to whether or not these molecules are being produced in your body, if the test is negative it means that there has not been a response and your body has not produced these antigen products while if the test is positive it means that there has been a response and that you are infected.

What Are The Differences Between Rapid Antigen Tests and Others Like It?

One of the main differences between the rapid antigen testing and other diagnostic tests is what the tests are looking for. While a rapid antigen test is looking to find out whether or not your body contains the antigens produced when infected, diagnostic tools like PCR tests are looking to find the genetic material of the virus itself. These differences each offer the same results and will tell you whether you are positive or negative, they just go about it differently. 

Another large factor to consider when looking at the differences between tests is the time that it takes for results to be compiled. As the name suggests, rapid antigen tests are quick to perform and the results are given to you in around 15-30 minutes. Other tests that have to analyse the sample in-depth and look for different genetic material and mutations tend to take far longer, ranging from 24 to 48 hours to receive your results.

What are The Advantages of Using a Rapid Antigen Test?

One of the main advantages of using a rapid antigen test is that you can receive the results quickly, ensuring that if you test positive you can isolate yourself immediately.

Covid-19 rapid antigen testing kits provide you with all that you will need to complete the test, whether you are at home or one of the testing centres located around the country.

How Does a Rapid Antigen Test Work?

Rapid antigen testing works by detecting the presence of specific antigens in your body, these antigens are what elicit a response from your body if you are infected with a disease. The rapid antigen testing procedure will take salvia from either the back of your throat or up your nose and measure to see whether you have any of these antigens in your body.

When and How Often To Do a Rapid Antigen Test?

A covid rapid antigen test should be done if you have symptoms, as the test only works when the body has been given enough time to register that there is something wrong. If you test too early, you may receive a false negative result, meaning that you do actually have the disease but your body has not yet detected it and elicited a response to it. If you have come into casual or close contact with someone who has tested positive, have a rapid antigen test (RAT) as soon as possible, and do another test in a couple of days, repeat it.  If symptoms occur, have a rapid antigen test immediately. Though your body has not yet released antigens to help combat the disease, you could still be contagious and should isolate yourself in case you have contracted the virus. Fore more information, please visit TGA website : https://www.tga.gov.au/covid-19-tests  or the states and territories may have different recommendations for testing and reporting positive results based on their public health orders.

How Accurate is a Rapid Antigen Test?

The covid rapid antigen test accuracy is high, just as long as you have waited long enough before taking the test. It has been determined that the accuracy of the test is most high when done the first week after symptoms have appeared, as this time is when your antigen count would be at its highest. If you test too soon, there is a chance that you will receive a false negative result!

Who Can Use a Rapid Antigen Test?

Anyone can use a rapid antigen test, and the test can be completed either at home or at a testing centre. The tests may be hard to do on yourself as you have to reach far back into your throat or nose to retrieve the sample, so it is often recommended that you go to a rapid antigen testing centre to complete the test.

How To Read The Results on a Rapid Antigen Test?


A positive test result will show two lines on the test, both the control and the actual test itself will have two lines showing a positive result (there is a C for control and a T for test). It is important that you look very closely at your test as the line can often appear very faintly, even the faintest of lines is considered to be positive.


When your test results are negative, only the control line will appear on the test.

What Should You Do After The Results?

What you do after receiving your results depends on the result itself. If you have tested positive, it is important that you immediately isolate yourself from others and inform whoever you have been in close contact with about your diagnosis. You can also contact your GP if you require medical assistance. If your test has come back negative, it is still important to remain cautious if you are sick, as these tests are not 100% accurate. If you have not had any symptoms but have been in close contact with a positive case, it may be a good idea to take another test in a few days time, as you may have just tested before the antigens were produced.

"As different States and Territories may have different recommendations for testing and for reporting positive results please see their website for any local requirements" 

Where to Get Rapid Antigen Tests?

There are two different types of  rapid antigen testing kits, which are Home (Self testing ) and Point of care (professional use) ,  The rapid antigen test for Covid-19 in Australia can be completed at your nearest Point of Care centre or can be done home if it is self testing..  

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