The two types of COVID-19 tests – antigen and PCR – work in very different ways, which is why one is fast but less accurate and the other is slow and precise.
Making rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 cheaper and more accessible can catch the infectious cases before they spread and help everyone resume normal activities safely.
A new over-the-counter COVID-19 test has been authorized by the FDA. Though it can be used to test people with and without symptoms, moderate cost and limited production mean it isn’t a game-changer.
COVID-19 patients often lose their sense of smell and taste. This is rare for a viral infection. At-home smell tests could be used as a screening tool and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In September, production of rapid tests really ramped up in the US. But due to low accuracy and massive numbers needed, these tests alone are unlikely to have much of an effect on the pandemic.
Over the approaching holidays, people around the world will want to travel to see friends and family. Getting tested for the coronavirus can make this safer, but testing alone is not a perfect answer.
The new BinaxNOW antigen test is quick, easy, accurate and cheap. It could solve the US testing problem, but the emergency use authorization only allows people with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.
Testing large numbers of people regularly would reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the US. Laboratory testing is slow and expensive, but rapid screening tests could be the answer.