FAQs about antigen self-testing for COVID-19
A COVID-19 antigen test kit produced by Shenzhen-based BGI PathoGenesis Pharmaceutical Technology [Photo from web]
China has approved COVID-19 antigen testing as a supplementary means to improve early detection, and 10 domestically made antigen kits have been allowed for home use.
Who can use a COVID-19 antigen self-test? Where to buy the self-testing kits? Can antigen self-testing be a substitute for nucleic acid testing? Here is some important information about the newly approved COVID-19 antigen self-testing.
Who can use COVID-19 antigen self-testing?
There are three groups of people who can use the antigen test kits:
- Those who visit grassroots medical institutions within 5 days of having respiratory symptoms or fever,
- Those who are under quarantine,
- And community residents who want to take the test.
Where to get the self-test kits?
Community residents can buy the self-test kits from retail drugstores and online sales channels.
For people under quarantine, administrative authorities organizing the quarantine, such as communities, villages and quarantine sites, are responsible for purchasing, distributing and managing the self-test kits.
How to conduct the self-testing?
The COVID-19 antigen self-testing generally uses nasal swab samples. Read and follow the instructions for use. Here is a quick guide.
- Before taking the test, you should wash your hands with water or sanitizer. Read the instructions. Check the expiration date of the kit and whether any part of the kit is missing or damaged. Ensure the environment is suitable for performing the test.
- Blow your nose with tissue before collecting the samples. Take the nasal swab out from its container and avoid touching the tip of the swab with your hands. Insert the swab about 1-1.5 centimeters into one nostril while keeping your head slightly tilted. Rotate the swab inside the wall of the nostril at least four times and no less than 15 seconds. Repeat the same process in the other nostril. People aged 14 or older can collect their own nasal samples. For children aged 2-14, the sample collection should be done by adults.
- Test the swab samples and wait for the results according to instructions.
Can antigen self-testing replace nucleic acid testing?
No. Nucleic acid testing result is still essential to confirm the infection of novel coronavirus.
Antigen tests are generally used during the acute infection period, which means within 7 days of suspected COVID-19 cases showing symptoms. A nucleic acid testing is required for the suspected cases, regardless of their antigen test results.
What to do after testing positive from an antigen test?
People who have positive antigen test result should immediately report to local authorities regardless of having respiratory symptoms or fever. They will be transferred to designated medical facilities for nucleic acid tests.