COVID testing in high demand during holidays
COVID-19 cases are increasing across the globe and as the holidays are being celebrated people are scrambling to get tested using various COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 tests have been in high demand especially after the holiday season and with the rise of the omicron variant, but many people are concerned with the sensitivity and efficacy of rapid tests in comparison to PCR tests.
“When you're dealing with an antigen test, everyone knows from the beginning that it is not by the nature of the technical aspect of the test as sensitive as a PCR, so it isn't 100% sensitive and not like a PCR, but it has a considerable degree of usefulness in a number of different circumstances,” said White House Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci said that while rapid tests are not 100% sensitive, it is still a critical tool to stop the spread of COVID-19. He added that when it comes to the utilization of rapid tests there is a reduction in sensitivity, not a total disappearance.
“When they were looking at the sensitivity with regard to Omicron in some of the tests, there appears to be somewhat of a diminution, not a disappearance, but a diminution of the sensitivity,” said Fauci.
Dr. Joseph Hayes of Omni Family Health said that while rapid tests are able to detect asymptomatic cases, people get positive results when they have COVID-19 symptoms as they are most contagious. He advised that if your rapid test is negative – a PCR test is the next best thing to do.
“The antigen is much less sensitive in people who are asymptomatic. but they're still useful. We can still use them to screen people. Certainly, if you have symptoms, they will work better. if you have symptoms and your rapid test is negative then you may want to talk to your doctor about going ahead and getting a PCR test as well,” said Hayes.
According to the California Department of Public Health, repeat antigen testing should be considered in individuals who receive a negative result from a rapid test but have symptoms specific for COVID-19 such as loss of taste and smell.