The use of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 looks set to ramp up in Australia with Health Minister Greg Hunt suggesting rapid home testing kits could soon be available. This will be helpful as rapid detection of the virus will result in faster contact tracing and faster suppression of the virus in our community and in keeping the mob safe in 2022.

Currently a professional lab test takes about six hours to run and the test results are returned in around 24 hours. Fast test results would be available in about 15 minutes which is helpful around some health settings, in airports, the transport industry and in education settings.

Around the world in place like the the UK, packets of ten test kits are available free of charge from chemist shops for home use. They are also provided free in several states in the USA. The TGA at the moment, only allow their use if supervised by a health professional.

Rapid antigen tests work best when there is a high viral load, that is in the first two to three days before symptoms develop, and in the first week after symptoms. So, if someone has a positive rapid antigen test result, then they should immediately go for a professional test.

The downside is that the rapid test is more prone to false positive (says you have a SARS-CoV-2 infection when you don’t) and false negative results (says you don’t have an infection when you do). But the test can be done by anyone, anywhere, so it can improve the speed and cost of getting a test result and allowing you to make an informed decision about your next health decision like asking for a professional test to help protect yourself, your family and the community.