As COVID-19 cases rise in Ottawa, many people are relying on rapid antigen tests to ensure they are virus-free, and while false negative test results are possible, proper administration is preferable to accurate results. will provide possibilities.
Rapid antigen test kits are free and readily available at most pharmacies and grocery stores in Ontario.
Many people who take the test have similar reasons for taking it – such as children at school, visiting elderly family members, and making sure they are COVID-free before travelling. The test only takes 15 minutes, and the results seem easy to get.
However, the reality is that this is far from perfect, with the fastest tests detecting the virus about 70 percent of the time.
“We’re giving people a lot of kits for at-home testing,” says pharmacist Jordan Clarke, owner of Westboro Shoppers Drug Mart. “You want to make sure you’re taking the time to set up the test correctly and most importantly, that you’re swabbing correctly, whether on yourself, a loved one, or especially Testing on a child.”
Clark has probably conducted thousands of tests during the pandemic. Pre-Omicron, the rapid test was being used primarily in the nostrils, he says. But some new strains live in the throat and tonsils.
To get the best test, keep the test kit out, read the instructions and don’t rush. Clark says to start with the mouth and swab the inside of both cheeks for five seconds, followed by another five-second swab on the back of the throat and tonsils — and swish the swab around.
Proceed in both nostrils, five seconds each, and not enough around the circumference. So how deep?
“You want to go as deep as you can until you feel some resistance and then push off a little bit, so it should be a little uncomfortable,” says Clark.
Place the swab with the solution into the test tube and squish the edge. Leave it there for the recommended amount of time, the liquid breaks down the particles to remove the COVID antigen.
Add the recommended number of drops to the test strip and wait a full 15 minutes. Depending on your virus load, the result may be ambiguous.
If the test is positive, the chances of it being false are very small.
“The other thing that’s important is the frequency of testing,” Clark says. “So not just one test but that we’re testing three, four, five times a week, it’s a better chance that you’re going to catch a positive case if you’re positive.”
Why are some people COVID-negative when they display symptoms?
Infection control epidemiologist Colin Furness says that it is related to the vaccination status of the person.
“If you’ve been vaccinated, you start getting symptoms very soon after being exposed because your body responds quickly because your body recognizes the virus quickly,” says Furness. “So you’re not very contagious yet and you’re showing symptoms because your vaccinations your body fights it off more quickly and you’re done with your symptoms but the virus is still flowing and you’re contagious during your symptoms become contagious after being infected.”
Furness adds that unvaccinated individuals may show a positive rapid test result at the onset of symptoms and it’s important to note that if a test comes back positive, unlike a PCR or molecular test, you are likely to be infectious.
“The advice we got from the public health that says you can go back to work after five days of symptoms is designed to actually infect people. It doesn’t protect people, it’s a terrible idea,” he says. “If you’ve been vaccinated, you really want ten days before the infection appears when you start exhaling in front of other people.” because of the infectious period after symptoms occur.”
If you feel unwell, are sick or test positive, most medical experts would say that the best outcome is simply to stay at home.