Risks about rapid antigen tests

There is a possibility that the COVID-19 diagnostic rapid antigen tests will provide a false-negative result. This indicates that the rapid antigen tests did not identify the virus, despite the fact that you are infected. If you do not take sufficient measures, such as following social distancing standards and using a face mask when necessary, you risk unwittingly transmitting the infection to others. Additionally, if instructions are not properly followed, a COVID-19 fast antigen test may yield false-positive findings, showing an infection when there is none.

The likelihood of receiving a false-negative or false-positive test result is dependent on the kind and sensitivity of the COVID-19 diagnostic rapid antigen tests, the completeness of sample collection, and the laboratory analysis’s accuracy.

Be suspicious of any offers for COVID-19 at-home rapid antigen tests that have not been authorized by the FDA for use Because they often provide erroneous results.

Preparation methods

Whether you have symptoms or not, prepare to wear a face mask too and from your doctor’s office or testing facility, and to have anybody accompanying you do the same.

If you believe you may have COVID-19, contact your doctor’s office or your local health department to discuss your covid symptoms and request testing prior to your visit, so staff can dress appropriately for your visit. 

If you have no symptoms but have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, follow your doctor’s or public health department’s testing advice. It is preferable to get a COVID-19 rapid antigen tests 5 to 7 days after being in close proximity to someone who has COVID-19. If you are tested too soon, the infection may not be detected.

If you believe you may be infected with COVID-19, contact your doctor’s office to discuss your symptoms, if any, and to inquire about testing. Then, your physician and other staff may prepare for your visit by donning personal protective equipment and instructing you on where to go and how the rapid antigen tests will be performed. Plan to wear a face mask on your way to and from the testing site, and ensure that anybody accompanying you does so as well.

If you have no symptoms and have not been in touch with someone infected with the COVID-19 virus, but want to get tested, inquire with your health care physician about testing availability and locations. Alternatively, you may contact your state or local health agency for information on testing or visit their website.

What to anticipate

A health care practitioner will collect mucus or saliva from your nose or throat for the COVID-19 diagnostic rapid antigen tests. The diagnostic sample may be obtained at your physician’s office, a health care institution, or a drive-up testing location.

• A swab of the nose or throat. While a lengthy nose swab (nasopharyngeal swab) is preferred, a shorter nasal or throat swab is acceptable. To collect mucus, your doctor or another health care practitioner inserts a thin, flexible stick with cotton at the tip into your nose or rubs the swab down the back of your throat. This may be a little unsettling.

For the nasal sample, swabbing in both nostrils may be necessary to gather sufficient mucus for the rapid antigen tests. The swab is left in place for a short time before being gently spun out. After sealing the sample in a tube, it is delivered to a laboratory for examination.

• A sample of saliva. Saliva tests are available at some places. While a saliva sample is less sensitive than a mucus sample acquired with a lengthy nose swab, it is also simpler to administer and often less painful. You spit repeatedly into a tube to produce a sample of your saliva for testing. The tube is then sealed and delivered to a laboratory for examination.

If you have a productive cough, your doctor may get a sputum sample, which comprises secretions from the lungs, which are a component of the lower respiratory system. Early in the illness, the virus is more concentrated in the nose and throat. However, the virus tends to be more concentrated in the lower respiratory system after five days of symptoms. Click here to read more about the productive cough.

Along with the COVID-19 diagnostic rapid antigen tests, your doctor may do other tests to rule out other respiratory disorders, such as influenza, that have similar symptoms and might account for your sickness.

The FDA approved some at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests kits for emergency use, including one that tests for both COVID-19 and the flu. Certain tests need a physician’s prescription. At home, you take a sample of nasal fluid or saliva and submit it to a lab for speedy analysis. Certain COVID-19 tests give immediate findings without sending the material to a laboratory. Some antigen tests are available without a prescription, albeit they are not regarded as reliable as PCR testing. If you test negative, repeating the rapid antigen tests might assist in ensuring that your findings are correct.

Because the sensitivity of each of these tests varies, a negative result does not always rule out the presence of the COVID-19 virus. Take an at-home rapid antigen tests only if the FDA has cleared it or if your doctor or local health agency has approved it.


Certain institutions provide fast diagnostic rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. In such situation, you may get your findings within an hour after testing or on the same day. Other facilities may be required to transmit the test specimen to a third-party laboratory for analysis. If they are required to send out a sample, your findings may not be available for several days.

The outcome of your COVID-19 diagnostic rapid antigen tests may be positive or negative.

A favorable outcome

This indicates that you are presently infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and prevent transmitting the illness to others. You will need to self-isolate until your symptoms improve, it has been 24 hours since you last had a fever, and it has been at least five days since your symptoms first emerged. Continue to wear a mask for five more days. If you do not have a fever and choose to get tested, you may do so after at least five days. However, if your test is positive, you should remain at home for a further five days.

If you have severe COVID-19 symptoms or a health condition that impairs your capacity to fight illness, your doctor may suggest that you be isolated for an extended period of time. If you have a positive result but do not experience symptoms, isolate for five days after the test and continue to wear a mask for another five days.

Negative outcome

This indicates that you are not likely to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. However, depending on the date and quality of the test sample, a false-negative test result may occur.

Even if you test negative, you may get sick in the future, which is why it’s critical to observe social distance, face mask usage, and hand-washing protocols to minimize any spread. If you continue to have symptoms, your doctor may prescribe repeat testing.