RATs can detect COVID-19 during the ‘acute’ phase of infection — especially just before you show symptoms and in the week after symptoms first appeared. But they’re still not as reliable as PCR tests.
It’s very important to follow the instructions on the packaging in order to get an accurate result.
When should I have a rapid antigen test?
So, if rapid antigen tests are less reliable than PCRs, and they’re not always free like most PCRs, why have one? Well, there are a few reasons:
RATs are a good solution if you have COVID-19 symptoms but can’t access a PCR testing clinic.If you want to quickly check if you’re likely to have COVID-19 — such as if you’re about to visit an aged-care facility or go to a party — you could have a RAT.
If your school or employer has a COVID-19 surveillance program in place, you may be asked to have regular pruebas rapidas antigen point-of-care tests.You might need to have a RAT if a state or territory health department requires it.Note: in some situations — such as to meet international travel requirements — having a PCR test may be your only option.
Where can I buy a rapid antigen test?
Currently, the supply of RATs isn’t meeting demand — although it’s expected to improve soon. You may be able to buy a RAT kit either online or from pharmacies and retailers, including major supermarkets. Pick up some cotton buds while you’re there if the test says you need them for the swab.
Only use tests that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). See the TGA’s list of approved tests here, including links to videos on how to use each test. This list is updated regularly.