COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a new strain of coronavirus that originated in China. Only ten months after this new respiratory disease was identified, it has already infected 37 million people in the world; 7.6 million (21%) of them are Americans.
Infected individuals may suffer mild, moderate, or severe respiratory symptoms, depending on their overall health status. The symptoms may appear within 2-14 days after the individual was exposed to the virus. Older people with underlying medical conditions are more at risk of developing complications.
However, studies show that asymptomatic carriers are responsible for 80% of COVID-19 transmission. This means that seemingly healthy but infected people, who show no signs or symptoms of the disease, spread it to their close contacts like family members. This highlights the importance of testing. But there are many types of test. This page aims to give you more information about them, paying particular attention to the rapid COVID-19 antigen test.
How to know if you are infected with coronavirus?
There are two main types of test used to detect coronavirus: 1. diagnostic and 2. antibody.
These tests detect the presence of an active infection. The two types of diagnostic tests include:
- Molecular test (RT-PRC) – detects the presence of virus genetic material
- Rapid antigen test – detects specific proteins found on the surface of the virus
This test detects the presence of antibodies (which your body developed in response to the virus) against SARS-CoV-2. But since antibodies take time to develop and can stay in the body weeks after the patient has already recovered, the antibody test is not used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.
Who needs a Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test?
Rapid Antigen Test can be performed on individuals who have exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Patients are also encouraged to get a rapid antigen test if they experience any of the following signs and symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever and chills
- Breathing difficulty
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
- Loss of sense of taste and smell
What are the benefits of Rapid Antigen testing for SARS-CoV-2?
Rapid antigen testing is a convenient alternative to RT-PCR test because of the following advantages:
- Can detect current infection, just like RT-PCR
- Can be performed on all patients regardless of age
- More affordable than RT-PCR
- The test can be performed at point-of-care
- Very fast turnaround time
Rapid antigen tests have moderate sensitivity, while RT-PCR has the highest sensitivity in all COVID-19 tests. For this reason, RT-PCR remains the gold standard in diagnosing COVID-19.
However, there is a way to improve the accuracy of rapid antigen tests. We should note that this test works best when the specimen is collected at a time when the viral load is highest, which is in the early stage of infection. The earlier the patient gets tested, the more accurate the result will be.
This test is best performed within 5 days from the onset of signs and symptoms.
How is the Rapid COVID-19 Antigen test done?
The doctor will get a sample of mucus from the patient’s nose through nasal swabbing. It detects the presence of specific antigens (proteins found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2) that triggers the body’s immune response to create antibodies against it.
Here are the steps that you will go through during specimen collection:
- The test collector will insert the swab into one nostril, with the tip inserted up to 1 inch from the edge of the nostril.
- The swab will be rolled 5 times along the inside surface of the nostril to collect mucus and cells.
- The same swab will be inserted into the other nostril, and the same process will be repeated to collect enough specimen.
The specimen collected will be processed and analyzed no later than 1 hour.
How is the result determined?
If the concentration of antigen is sufficient in the sample collected, it will bind to specific antibodies in the paper strip and show a plus (+) sign in as fast as 15 minutes. If the test kit doesn’t detect any antigen, it will reflect a negative sign (-).
Positive (CoV2: +)
If the result of the Rapid COVID-19 Antigen test is positive, it means that there are viral antigens present in the samples collected.
The doctor will interpret the result in relation to the patient’s medical history, exposure, current signs and symptoms, and other diagnostic information. All positive results will be reported to health authorities.
Negative (CoV2: -)
A negative result is not presumptive, which means that it is not used as the only basis for treatment and diagnosis.
A negative Rapid COVID-19 Antigen test also doesn’t completely rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection, as it can have a false-negative result if the patient was tested beyond 5 days from the onset of symptoms.
Just like a positive antigen test, the doctor will also correlate a negative test to the patient’s medical history, recent exposure, and COVID-19 signs and symptoms. The doctor might also ask the patient to get an RT-PCR test to confirm that he or she is indeed COVID-free.
An invalid test result must be repeated.
How to prepare for a Rapid COVID-19 Antigen test?
When you visit our clinic on the scheduled date of testing, don’t forget to wear your face mask and face shield and maintain physical distancing. You may also bring your medical records if you have any.
During your consultation, our physician will evaluate you, as he will have to correlate your medical history and exposure to the result of the test. All information will be treated with the utmost confidentiality, so we urge our patients to be as honest as possible.
Where can you get a Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test?
We know the importance of accessibility and availability of testing and medical help in this difficult time. To better serve our patients, we now offer the Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19 at Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches.
You can get yourself tested in any of our convenient locations:
- COVID-19 testing Forest Hill, Fl
- COVID-19 testing West Palm Beach
- COVID-19 testing Palm Beach Gardens
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who tested positive, you can schedule an appointment with us. Remember that the test is most accurate if taken within 5 days from the onset of symptoms. Alternatively, you can also walk-in anytime.
We also offer PCR and Antibody tests. For inquiries, call us at 561-429-6109.
Learn more about COVID-19at Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches
For your health concerns in the time of COVID-19, you may consult our physicians at Urgent Care of the Palm Beach Gardens through our telemedicine services.
Our locations remain open seven days a week to deliver health services to our patients and the community:
Likewise, if you have any questions about COVID-19, feel free to contact our clinic. We are more than willing to answer any questions you might have about the disease.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.