How Accurate Are Rapid COVID Tests?

In people who already have diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure, COVID-19, a respiratory disease, can cause serious illness.

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can be diagnosed using two common tests.

An PCR test, or diagnostic test, is the first type of test that uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Coronavirus genetic material can be detected by PCR testing, which can aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19. When it comes to disease diagnosis, PCR tests are considered gold standard by the CDC.

The antigen test is the alternative. The SARS-CoV-2 virus surface molecules can be detected using these tests, which aid in the diagnosis of COVID-19.

A COVID-19 rapid test is one that can provide results in 15 minutes or less and does not necessitate a laboratory analysis. Antigen tests are the most common form.

PCR tests are more accurate than rapid tests because they are analyzed in a laboratory. Continue reading to find out when rapid tests can replace PCR tests and how accurate they are.

How accurate are rapid COVID-19 tests?

There is no need for a specialist to analyses the results of a rapid COVID-19 test, which can often provide them in minutes.

Antigen tests are commonly referred to as rapid tests, and the two terms are often used interchangeably in the same context. The FDA has approved laboratory-based antigen tests, so the CDC has stopped referring to them as “rapid.”

Point-of-care tests, also known as rapid tests, can be carried out at the following locations:

  • home with a home COVID-19 test
  • a doctor’s office
  • pharmacies
  • school clinics
  • long-term care facilities
  • airports
  • drive-through testing sites

To collect mucus and cells, you or a medical professional will use a cotton swab to place in your nose or throat, or both. If you test positive for COVID-19, your sample is usually applied to a color-changing strip.

Even though the results are immediate, these tests are not as accurate as those performed in a laboratory because more virus must be present in your sample for a positive result to be reported. False negative results are common with rapid tests.

It’s possible to get a false negative for COVID-19 if the test shows you don’t have it, but you do.

How accurate are at-home tests

However, despite their limitations, at-home tests have helped identify cases of COVID-19 that might have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for them. When it comes to antigen COVID-19 tests, the likelihood of a false negative is much higher than the likelihood of a false positive, which means that you’re more likely to get a false negative than a false positive when taking a home COVID-19 test.

For the purpose of detecting COVID-19 infection, researchers compared the validity of home antigen tests with PCR lab tests in a recent study. 78.9% of those who tested positive for the virus had it, while 97.1 percent of those who tested negative had it within 12 days of their first symptom onset.

96.2 percent of COVID-19 cases were correctly identified by home tests if taken within three days of symptom onset. Three-day follow-up tests were nearly as accurate as tests performed on the day symptoms first appeared, according to the study’s findings.

Chances of a rapid test giving a false negative

Rapid antigen or molecular tests were evaluated in 64 studies, and the results were analyzed.

According to the study, researchers found that the test results were highly variable. See what they found out.

Accuracy for people with COVID-19 symptoms

About 72% of the time, the tests correctly identified COVID-19 as a positive result in people who had symptoms. According to the researchers, there was a 95% chance that the average value would fall between 63.7 percent and 79 percent within the 95 percent confidence intervals.

Accuracy for people without COVID-19 symptoms

58.1 percent of rapid tests correctly identified people without COVID-19 symptoms. 40.2-74.1 percent were included in the 95 percent confidence intervals.

Comparing accuracy between first and second weeks after beginning of symptoms

During the first week of symptoms, rapid tests were more accurate at detecting COVID-19. In the first week of testing, researchers found that rapid tests correctly identified COVID-19 in 78% of cases.

During the second week, the average fell to 51%.

What should you do if a rapid test comes back negative but you’re still experiencing symptoms?

Your rapid test may have returned a false negative if you don’t have the coronavirus but do have symptoms of COVID-19. A more precise PCR test should be used to verify your negative result.


In the first week of symptoms, rapid COVID-19 tests are the most accurate, according to research.

Rapid tests carry a high risk of returning a false negative. A false negative result in about a quarter of the time for those with symptoms. About 40% of people who have no symptoms are at risk. As for false positives, the rate is less than 1% for rapid tests.

Preliminary COVID-19 testing can help determine if the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is present in your body. For those who have symptoms and the rapid test is negative, it is recommended that the results of the PCR test be confirmed.

TIB Diagnostics offers a wide range of diagnostic, screening, and evaluation tests for a wide range of medical conditions. We are licensed and in compliance with all applicable laws and standards because of this. TIB Diagnostics uses only the most cutting-edge diagnostic tools and methods. Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that their laboratory staff is well-trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating patients with illnesses. Most accurate and reliable test results can be found at TIB Diagnostics.

Read More: How to Keep Your Heart Healthy After a Coronavirus Recovery
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