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Article: What Is a Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19?

What Is a Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19?

What Is a Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19?

Rapid antigen tests became popular in 2021 due to their fast results in letting people know their COVID-19 infection status. But what exactly are these tests? If you are one of those who wonder about the antigen test meaning, you came to the right place. Read on as we explain the antigen test definition, how they work and how you can translate the results from the comfort of your home.

What Is a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test?

The COVID-19 rapid antigen test detects coronavirus in the nose and throat when testing for COVID-19. The test looks for specific proteins found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called antigens. A rapid antigen test is usually the first line of defence when testing for COVID, mainly if you show signs of the disease. The test is usually preferred because it takes a few moments before you get your results back, and it is cheaper than other testing methods.

The test checks if you have COVID-19 antigens in your body. After testing, you usually have an antigen test validity period of around 96 hours. This makes it great when travelling internationally, especially if you are going abroad for a job and need quick results. Another added advantage of these tests is that you don't have to visit a healthcare centre to get tested. Nowadays, many different brands offer home test kits. For example, you could buy Helgen COVID-19 test or purchase the lateral flow tests.

How Should COVID-19 Antigen Test Be Taken?

The rapid antigen test procedure involves taking sample cells from the upper respiratory tract. You can also get a sample from your nose. The process involves putting a cotton swab inside your nose to get the sample. 

Unlike other tests, there is nothing special to do before taking the test. You can also do the test at home courtesy of the at-home self-test kits. To prepare for this, clean your hands and disinfect the area and surfaces where you plan to prepare the sample.

When obtaining the sample, ensure the cotton swab gets to the back of your nose or lower in your nose, and then rotate it. You can get samples from both nostrils.

The entire process should take at least a minute. Feeling slightly uncomfortable when getting the sample is normal. You may also have watery eyes, sense a temporary sting, or need to cough.  

After the test is done, there are no after-test procedures to follow either. If you are at a clinic, the professional will analyse your sample to see if the antigens are present. For those using the at-home kits, the steps and instructions are provided in detail on the kit. But what does a positive antigen test mean? If you’ve tested positive, it means that the test detected the SARS-CoV-2 virus antigens, and you are infected with COVID-19.

What Are the Signs You Should Get a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test?

There are certain times when getting a rapid antigen test may be necessary. If it is a diagnosis, it would be best to go for a PCR test as it is more accurate. If it is not available, then an antigen test would do. Antigen tests are often used for screening to prevent the spread of the disease. The following are some of the times when going for a rapid antigen test would be appropriate:

  • After attending a large social gathering or party where there are many people without social distancing and where there could be a risk of transmission.
  • If you have been near someone who has COVID-19
  • When you are looking to travel or get a job in a place where it is a requirement to get tested first
  • If you work or live in a place where many people reside together, this can be a school, correctional facility or homeless shelter

It is essential to get tested, as it helps identify positive individuals, so they can seek treatment and isolate themselves to prevent spreading the infection.


Rapid antigen tests are convenient and are considered by many because of the fast results and relatively low costs compared to other tests. The test's simplicity makes it the most common COVID test that’s also easy to do at home. So the next time you suspect you are infected with COVID-19 buy FlowFlex COVID-19 test kits and do it yourself at home.

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