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Everything You Need To Know About Rapid Antigen Tests & Where To Get Them

Ever since the Covid-19 virus became a ‘thing’ and slowly but surely spread across the globe, virtually all of us have had to become accustomed to getting ourselves tested at our local GP, a drive-through test centre or at a hospital.

Getting tested for Covid-19 has been vital for countries to determine how best to navigate the virus to keep their residents safe. This has usually resulted in a halt on domestic and international travel, strict lockdowns, keeping people inside their homes, unable to enjoy the usual freedoms and niceties we now take for granted.

But, while getting tested has the power to tell us if we have contracted the Covid-19 virus or not, the downside to them has been the fact we’ve still had to self-isolate at home until we receive the results. This can take up to 72 hours, which, if you were to return a negative test result, will like especially wasted time.

However, the Australian government has now announced the arrival of rapid antigen tests, which allow you to test yourself at home for the Covid-19 virus, and owing to their ‘rapid’ name, return results in 20 to 30 minutes. There are currently nine rapid antigen tests approved by the Australian Health Department’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, all of which will arrive in stores around Australia from 1st November.

There are still some drawbacks to these at-home rapid antigen test kits, however; you won’t be able to use a result to board an international flight, for example, but on the whole, they offer a much quicker alternative to something such as a drive-through centre.

We’ve compiled a list of all the rapid antigen test kits currently approved for use in Australia, along with all the rules and regulations surrounding them, including what you can and can’t do following a test result.

Fingers crossed the vaccination rates continue to increase so we can eventually say goodbye, or at least, see you later, to this damn virus.

What Is A Rapid Antigen Test?

A rapid antigen test (RAT), is a form of rapid diagnostic test – one that is easy to perform and delivers quick results – that has most commonly been used to detect SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as Covid-19. Rapid antigen tests have been designed to give a user a test result within as little as five minutes, and a maximum of 30-minutes. They’re also affordable and require very little in the way of medical training in order to be used.

How Do I Use A Rapid Antigen Test?

How you use a rapid antigen test depends entirely on which type of test you buy, as there are a few options. We’ll go into more detail later, but as a general overview, the two types of test that are currently improved require either an oral fluid sample, obtained by spitting into the test tube, or via a nasal swab.

Which Type Of Rapid Antigen Test Is Most Accurate?

If you’ve already been tested for Covid-19, then you’ve most likely been given a nasal swab. This is because nasal swabs have often been considered to deliver far more accurate results than saliva. However, according to The Scientist, Anne Wyllie, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, carried out a study testing the accuracy of both sample methods.

She ultimately found that saliva can be just an effective method of testing for the Covid-19 virus, however, this was in a controlled setting. A further study carried out at the Université de Guyana in French Guiana, which used participants from deep in the South American jungle, as well as small villages, found saliva testing was less sensitive, but results could have been affected by “a person’s viral load.”

Ultimately, a rapid antigen test requiring a saliva sample should still give you an accurate result, and obviously, it’s far more comfortable to perform than a nasal swab. However, it could be worth buying both just to make sure.

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Where Can I Buy A Rapid Antigen Test Kit In Australia and How Much Do They Cost?

All Australian states, except South Australia and Western Australia, have now made rapid antigen tests available for Australians to buy over-the-counter. They can be bought in pharmacies and supermarkets, including Coles and Woolworths and are designed to be cost-effective, so don’t expect to pay too much for them.

It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to have the cost of your test covered by Medicare, you’ll have to pay out of your own back pocket.

Woolworths

Woolworth’s now offers 2-pack and 5-pack varieties of the Hough Covid-19 Home Test kit. They can be bought online or in-store, although, at the time of writing they are currently out of stock on the Woolworths website. Rapid antigen tests at Woolworths cost $30 for a 2-pack or $50 for a 5-pack.

Coles

Coles also offers the same Hough Covid-19 Home Test at its stores, and online, in 2-pack, for $30, and 5-pack, $50, varieties. Coles, like Woolworths, is currently out of stock on its website, so you may want to check your local store for stock levels.

MedCart

MedCart is Australia’s one-stop destination for various over-the-counter medical supplies. The online store stocks a range of Covid-19 rapid antigen test kits (mentioned below) in various quantities, including 1-pack, 2-pack, and 20-pack.

Rapid antigen tests at MedCart range from $18.95 for a single-pack, up to $1,074 for a 100-pack of the RightSign test.

Blooms The Chemist

You’ll likely find Blooms The Chemist in most towns, but the online store has a couple of online-only rapid antigen test kits, which is the Ecotest model, mentioned below. You should, however, be able to find the nasal swab test supplied by Roche Diagnostics (mentioned below), in-store.

The Ecotest tests will set you back $25.99 for a 2-pack, or $59.99 for a 5-pack. The Roche-supplied test also costs $59.99 for a 5-pack.

Chemist Warehouse

Discount chemist Chemist Warehouse has the RightSign rapid antigen test available to buy online only. You can pick up a 2-pack for $24.99, or a 5-pack for $49.99.

Discount Drug Stores

Discount Drug Stores stocks the RightSign Covid-19 rapid antigen test kit too, in 2-pack, 5-pack, and 10-pack varieties for $29.99, $59.99, and $99.99. At the time of writing, there is currently no stock online.

What Are The Best Rapid Antigen Test Kits?

There are currently nine rapid antigen tests approved by the TGA for use in Australia. Three require a saliva sample, and the remaining six require a nasal swab. These are all the current tests approved in Australia, along with links to their instructions, so you can formulate a good idea of which test(s) you’ll want to look out for when they become available.

The various nasal swab tests, for example, require you to rotate the swab inside your nose a varying number of times, and the number of times you need to squeeze the test tube into which it’s placed can vary too. So be sure you know exactly how to use the tests in order to get the most accurate result.

  • Hough Covid-19 Home Test: This is the rapid antigen test that is available to buy at. It’s manufactured by BIOHIT HealthCare Co Ltd in China, and supplied by Hough Pharma Pty Ltd in Australia. This is a nasal swab test and takes around 15-minutes to deliver a test result.
  • All Test Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid): This rapid antigen test is manufactured by Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co Ltd in China, and supplied in Australia by AM Diagnostics. As the name suggests, this test works by testing a saliva sample and delivers a test result at 15-minutes. The guidelines say to not read it earlier than 15-minutes, or after 20-minutes.
  • All Test SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Nasal Swab): Made by the same company as the saliva-based test above, this rapid antigen test requires a nasal swab. Also similar to the saliva-based version, the results of this test should be read at 15-minutes.
  • CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test: This test is manufactured by Access Bio Inc of the United States of America and supplied in Australia by Pantonic Pty Ltd. It too requires a nasal swab, with a result delivered after just 10-minutes. Super speedy.
  • Ecotest COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test Kit: Manufactured by Assure Tech Co Ltd of China and supplied by Emergence Technology Pty Ltd in Australia, this test also works using a saliva sample and will be available in 2-pack and 5-pack variants. Results can be read at 15-minutes.
  • InnoScreen Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device: Manufactured by Innovation Scientific Pty Ltd in Australia, this rapid antigen test is one of the latest to be approved for use in the country. This testing kit also requires a nasal swab, with results given in 15-minutes.
  • LYHER Novel Coronavirus Antigen Test Kit: Manufactured by Hangzhou Laihe Biotech Co Ltd in China and supplied to Australia by 2San Pty Ltd, this test, which also uses a nasal swab, is said to offer high sensitivity. It will give your results in 15-minutes.
  • My Covid Test Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid): This test is also manufactured by Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co Ltd in China and is supplied by AM Diagnostics. Testing requires a saliva sample and results can be read at 15-minutes.
  • OnSite COVID-19 Ag Self Test: Another nasal swab testing kit, this rapid antigen test, with very high sesnsitivity, is made by CTK Biotech Inc in the USA, and supplied to Australia by MD Solutions Australasia Pty Ltd. It is the latest test to be approved for use in Australia, being approved on 3 November.
  • Orawell COVID-19 Ag Rapid Saliva Test Device: As its name suggests, this test, manufactured by Jiangsu Well Biotech Co Ltd and supplied to Australia by Motion One Pty Ltd, works by analysing a salvia sample, making it more accessible to more people. It will give results in 15-minutes.
  • RightSign COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (Nasal Swab): Another test manufacturer in China, this one comes from Hangzhou Biotest Biotech Co Ltd, and is supplied to Australia by Medsupply Australia Pty Ltd. It too requires a nasal swab and results can be read between 10-15 minutes.
  • Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self Test: The Panbio test, made by Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Jena GmbH in Germany, and supplied to Australia by Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Pty Ltd will be available in single-pack, four-pack, 10-pack and 20-pack varieties. It requires you to take a nasal swab and results can be read between 15-20-minutes.
  • SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self Test Nasal: This Republic of Korea-manufactured rapid antigen test, made by SD Biosensor Inc and supplied by Roche Diagnostics Australia Pty Limited also uses a nasal swab, with results being delivered between 15-30-minutes after the sample has been placed into the test tube.

All the rapid antigen tests available in Australia deliver results in a similar fashion. The fluid sample, whether it be from nasal or saliva, is dropped onto a test cassette, which is what gives you your test result. There are markers for a control region (C) and a test region (T).

Image: 4BC

How Do I Read The Test Result Of A Rapid Antigen Test?

If lines appear next to both the C and T markers, then your result is positive. Even a faint line next to the T can indicate a positive result. You should always take your test result to a health professional for further examination.

If no line appears next to the T marker, but there is a line next to the C marker, then you have returned a negative test result.

If no lines appear next to either the C or the T markers, then the test is regarded as invalid and you will need to complete the test again using a new test cassette.

What To Do If I Get A Positive Test Result?

If your rapid antigen test kit does return a positive result, then the TGA recommends going to an official Covid-19 testing site as soon as possible to have another test performed. As is currently the requirement, you will then need to isolate until the results of this PCR test are returned to you.

Can The Results Of A Rapid Antigen Test Be Used To Travel?

The quick answer to this, is no. Right now, no Australian state that has approved the use of rapid antigen tests will allow someone to travel domestically or internationally, should they return a negative result.

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