Do Rapid Antigen Tests Detect Omicron?

The new variant of the COVID-19 virus, Omicron, is quickly spreading all across the globe. In such a situation, many people are relying on Rapid Antigen Tests to test themselves and know whether they have been infected or not. However, recent research has shown that too much dependency on these Rapid Antigen Tests might not be a promising idea as the test might not reliably detect the Omicron variant in some circumstances.

Why Nose Swabs Are Not Reliable?

Most people take a swab from their nose when they do a rapid antigen test. This is not a reliable method as the virus takes some time to reach the nose, and it might still be in their throats for the first few days. If the virus hasn't reached the nostrils and you take a swab early, you might get a negative test result and wrongly assume that you are safe. It is not the case because people who have an infection in their throat and saliva can pass it on to others and increase the spread of the infection.

The Study

A study conducted recently looked at 29 workers in high-risk professions who were Omicron infected. They had taken PCR and antigen tests simultaneously on multiple days. The PCR tests of the saliva detected the virus on an average of three days before the nose swab samples of rapid antigen tests became positive.

The Study Leader, Blythe Adamson from Infectious Economics LLC, a risk-reduction company, said, "When people test negative by rapid antigen, they can still have very infectious viral loads and transmit to other people."

Throat Swab Caution

Some experts suggest that a person using an antigen test should swab the throat before swabbing the nose. But authorities like the FDA recommend that a person follow the manufacturer's instructions. Self-collection of throat swabs should be done with caution as it can cause you or the patient harm if you make a mistake. A healthcare professional should take the swab whenever possible.

Earlier Appearance of Symptoms

Research has proven that COVID-19 symptoms appear earlier with Omicron compared to other variants.

Expert Advice

One of the experts has recommended that you assume that you are positive whenever you feel the symptoms. But it would help if you waited to use the antigen tests until a few days have passed to confirm the infection.

What's the Result? Can You Depend on Rapid Antigen Tests to Detect Omicron?

The simple answer to the question of can depend on rapid antigen tests to detect Omicron is yes. But the catch is that these tests might be less sensitive to Omicron than other variants of COVID-19.

It is also recommended that you look out for these symptoms and choose hospitalization if your healthcare provider recommends it.

To know more about the spread of Omicron across the globe or what research is underway regarding the virus, you can check the official website of WHO over here. Do check the recommended actions for the people section on the webpage.


Previous Post Next Post