Covid-19 self-tests: Which one is best?

Dec 22, 2021
Increasingly the public are now being encouraged to use rapid antigen tests at home. Source: Getty Images.

With the arrival of the Omicron variant to our shores, Covid-19 cases have surged alarmingly and with it, waiting times to get a test. Increasingly the public are now being encouraged to use rapid antigen tests at home as a quick and convenient alternative.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) explained in a statement that the rapid tests “are most reliable when used by a person who has symptoms of COVID-19”.

“Home use tests for Covid-19 test a nasal swab sample or saliva for the presence of the virus that causes Covid-19,” the statement said.

“A home use test can be used by people in the home, workplace or elsewhere without the involvement of a doctor or health practitioner. Most home use tests produce a result within 10-20 minutes.

“They are not as reliable when used to test someone who does not have symptoms.”

Although the government has encouraged members of the public to utilise the rapid testing, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is still considered the gold standard when determining if someone has contracted Covid-19. With so much varying information it can be difficult to determine which course of action to take when getting a test and which test is best to get the most reliable result.

The TGA has approved a number of Covid-19 self-tests on November 1 with a minimum clinical sensitivity of at least 80% for samples collected within 7 days of the onset of symptoms.

Of the 15 tests approved by the TGA, five have been classified ‘very high sensitivity’ which means a clinical sensitivity of over 95 per cent. These include:

  • All Test SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Nasal Swab) Self-Test
  • LYHER Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Antigen Test Kit (Colloidal Gold) Self-Test
  • OVID-19 Ag Self Test
  • Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
  • V-Chek COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test

Tests that have a clinical sensitivity of greater than 90 per cent are considered “high sensitivity” and include:

  • All Test COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid) Self-Test
  • Hough COVID-19 Home Test
  • My Covid Test Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid)
  • Orawell COVID-19 Ag Rapid saliva test device (Self-test)
  • RightSign COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (Nasal Swab)
  • TESTSEALABS COVID-19 Antigen Test Cassette

Tests with a clinical sensitivity of more than 80 per cent are classified as “acceptable sensitivity” and include:

  • CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
  • Ecotest COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test kit
  • InnoScreen COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device
  • SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self Test Nasal

Given the varying degrees of sensitivity regarding tests, it can still be confusing to determine which test is most effective. University of Queensland’s infectious disease physician, associate professor Paul Griffin told The Guardian “if they’ve (TGA) approved it, and it is available, it’s a test I would endorse”.

“I’d recommend anything approved by the TGA – we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, with regards to testing and vaccines, that they are incredibly rigorous,” he said.

This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Would an at home rapid Covid-19 test give you peace of mind?

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