The rapid tests (point-of-care tests) are immunoassays – as with pregnancy tests, results can be obtained in minutes. 15 minutes for the COVID tests. With all testing, ensuring accurate sampling is really important to ensure accurate results. The current tests are for medical professional use only. They require a nasopharyngeal swab (saliva tests are being developed) being taken with safe infection control measures, appropriate use of PPE and disposal of biohazard waste. It should also incorporate access to further laboratory testing as well as reporting into PHE.
The European Centre for Disease control (ECDC) identify that rapid antigen tests perform best in cases with high viral load, in pre-symptomatic and early symptomatic cases up to five days from symptom onset. Rapid antigen tests can help reduce further transmission through early detection of highly infectious cases, enabling a rapid start of contact tracing and management within a business of cases. If a positive antigen result is found an additional PCR test will be sent to the lab to ensure that it is not a false positive.