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How Accurate Are Rapid COVID Tests?

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, even people who are fully vaccinated are growing more and more concerned about new ultra-contagious variants. Quarantining while waiting days for PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests often feels untenable, and rapid tests given at doctors’ offices can get expensive. With these different options, COVID-conscious consumers are wondering: How accurate are rapid COVID tests

The rapid COVID test kits for sale at iPromo all have FDA EUA approval and have had great results in clinical trials showing how accurate they are at detecting COVID-19 infections. Quidel’s QuickVue rapid test is accurate at detecting positive cases 83 percent of the time. Abbott’s BinaxNow rapid test accuracy, as well as OraSure’s IntelliSwab test accuracy, is roughly the same, as studies found they detected 84 percent of positive tests. Even better, Quidel boasts 99 percent accuracy at detecting negative cases, with Abbott and OraSure just behind it at 98 percent accuracy. 

Rapid Tests vs. PCR Rests

The differences between the rapid test and the PCR test come down to the science behind them. As explained by Yale Medicine, the way you get the test sample for both tests is the same — by inserting a swab up the nose and twisting or wiping it to get enough of a sample to test for COVID-19. When getting a test at a doctor’s office, you generally will have the swab go pretty far up the nose, which can get uncomfortable. With the at-home tests, the directions that come with the tests say to insert the swab about an inch into your nostril and twirl it around for 10-15 seconds.

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The biggest differences between these tests are a) where the samples are tested and b) the method used to determine whether the person tested has COVID-19.  

a woman swabbing the inside of her mouth for a covid home test

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What Are COVID PCR Tests?

For the PCR test, samples are sent to laboratories and tested by technicians — which is why many medical professionals still consider them the gold standard for COVID testing. As Yale Medicine noted, these tests used to take multiple days at the beginning of the pandemic because there was a lack of both supply and available technicians to do the testing, and they are turned around much faster now as the supply chain has gotten up and running. Using a range of chemicals and medical equipment, PCR tests check the DNA from a sample to see if it’s positive for COVID. 

Because they require lots of work — from a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist administering or supervising the test to securely being shipped to labs where they’re then processed by technicians — PCR tests still take anywhere from 18 to 72 hours to get results back. IPromo carries PCR tests which are perfect for companies or organizations looking for large on-site testing. 

What Are Rapid COVID Tests?

Rapid tests, also known as antigen tests, have a different approach to figure out whether someone has COVID. Antigen tests also use DNA to determine if the person the sample is collected from has COVID, but the results come back much quicker because it uses a reagent (the liquid that comes with these types of test kits) that you use directly on the sample right after taking the nasal swab. If your company or organization is planning on inviting employees back to the office or have in person conferences planned, putting their health and safety will be a high priority. The best solution is to have your employees tested before getting involved in any in-person events. Ipromo offers a number of Covid Testing kits that can be done on-site, at home and even an eMed version that incorporates a travel app for anyone travelling via airports. 

A man doing a covid home test on his couch

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So Which Is Most Accurate?

Rapid tests are somewhat less accurate than PCR tests — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates antigen tests as “generally less sensitive” at detecting COVID-19 than PCR tests. But, as Yale Medicine noted, the PCR’s sensitivity is a double-edged sword: Because the PCR test is so sensitive and complicated, it can result in false negatives. As such, antigen tests may be better at detecting COVID in people who don’t have symptoms than PCR tests. 

Additionally, because they are much faster and easier for people to use than PCR tests, you can test yourself multiple times with rapid tests if you’re exposed to COVID — especially if you take advantage of iPromo’s bulk rapid COVID test kit options that can accommodate any testing program that your company may have. 

Taking Measures Against COVID

To make sure you’re as safe and clean as possible amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, iPromo also offers bulk Lysol spray and other bulk sanitizer products for COVID. These products are helpful not just for disinfecting while the pandemic is still raging, but also to help keep your spaces germ-free during cold and flu season. 

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