Understanding different types of COVID rapid antigen tests

Over the past six months, scientists and professionals from across the globe have developed and validated novel techniques for recognizing the coronavirus. As science improves and becomes more widely accepted, you may find it difficult to keep up with the newest rapid antigen tests and procedures. You are not alone in this.

We contacted Brian Mochon, PhD, a clinical microbiologist and system medical director for infectious disease testing at Sonora Quest Laboratories/Laboratory Sciences of Arizona, for his perspective on the COVID-19 testing’s unique sample collection methodologies. He outlined three methods for diagnosing a patient: throat swabs, nasal swabs, and nasopharyngeal swabs. Dr. Mochon also highlighted other collection techniques, including the use of saliva and sample pooling. Learn more about rapid antigen tests at https://clinicalsupplies.com.au/collections/rapid-antigen-tests

Swab amassed

You’ve definitely heard a few friends discuss their nose swab experiences. Certain friends may wax eloquent about their suffering, while others dismissively state that it was little. Both are saying the truth. “These samples may be taken from various depths in the nose,” Dr. Mochon said. “While some swabs are intended to take samples from the nasal walls of the nostril, others are designed to capture samples from deeper into the nasal cavity” (i.e., the nasopharynx). Additionally, samples may be taken from the back of the throat, referred to as an oropharyngeal (OP) swab. All swabs have the same objective — to detect respiratory secretions and infectious cells.”

Therefore, why isn’t everyone just adopting the most convenient method? According to Dr. Mochon, “samples taken from deeper in the nasopharynx have been shown to have a greater viral content or titer.” In other words, sampling with nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs is more likely to provide a correct diagnosis than sampling with a nasal or throat swab.” As a result, the nasopharyngeal swab has long been considered the gold standard for trustworthy testing. Click here to learn some complications of the nasopharyngeal swab test.

“Of course, there is still a place for collecting nasal or throat samples,” Dr. Mochon said. “Obviously, they are more comfortable, but they may also be a safer option for people who suffer from persistent nose bleeds or nasal polyps. If you have one of these disorders, you should consult your provider regarding the optimal sample type for your requirements; nonetheless, nasopharyngeal samples should be the main technique of collection whenever feasible.”

Laboratory Examination of the Sample

After collecting the swab, it is put in a liquid called transport medium and transferred to the laboratory for processing and testing. Indeed, you may be surprised to hear that the lab analyzes all swabs identically (nasal, NP, and throat). This is because the collecting swabs are seeking the same thing – the virus in respiratory secretions and infected cells. Once the swab is inserted into the transport medium, the virus and infected cells are released into the liquid. The liquid is then used to conduct rapid antigen tests.


Dr. Mochon was effusive in his praise for this sample type. “Preliminary results from a variety of labs throughout the nation indicate that saliva may be as accurate as of the NP swab.” He continued by stating that if saliva is shown to be a reliable and accurate sample type, it will result in a more pleasant experience for the patient and reduce the need for swabs throughout the collection process. This is really encouraging for patients and medical professionals alike.”

Dr. Mochon added that the deeper, NP swabs might sometimes elicit sneezing or choking, which can result in the virus being aerosolized. Healthcare staff is protected by masks and other protective gear while doing NP swabs. With saliva, this is not an issue since the patient would simply spit into a tube or a cup.


Multiple patient samples are mixed and evaluated in this manner. If a value is negative, it is presumed that all values are negative. If a patient tests positive, the laboratory will retest him or her separately. The aim for this strategy is to expand the laboratory’s testing capacity while saving money on testing reagents, which have been restricted in quantity because to the scale and breadth of the COVID-19 epidemic. This approach is only applicable if the viral prevalence is less than 5-6 percent.

Should I Have My Blood Tested?

While these rapid antigen tests are becoming more readily accessible, they are still generally reserved for those who exhibit symptoms. If you are symptom-free, you may like to read more about the antibody rapid antigen tests. If you are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms, please contact our symptom checker at bannerhealth.com for guidance on next measures.

Don’t: If you have no symptoms, get checked. This is why:

  • There are still a limited number of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests available, and they must be saved for those in most need. 
  • COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are only helpful when a person exhibits symptoms. Individuals who do not exhibit symptoms may rapid antigen tests negative (false negative result), despite the fact that they are infected and asymptomatic. It is critical to get checked only if you are experiencing symptoms.

Do: Keep an eye on your symptoms and contact your doctor before seeking rapid antigen tests.

  • Specific requirements remain in effect for individuals who need testing. Consult your physician prior to looking out testing locations.
  • Symptoms are similar to those of the flu or a cold, and may include a new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, fever, or a sudden loss of smell or taste. If you acquire any of these symptoms or have come into touch with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19:

Do: Take the following steps to maintain a healthy immune system:

  • Stress management, enough sleep, and a good diet may all help strengthen your immunity. learn more about stress management at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stress
  • Use social distancing techniques to help reduce your risk of infection.
  • Avoid contacting your eyes, mouth, or nose. Virus particles on your hands have the potential to infect your body via these entrance locations.
  • Clean your hands. OFTEN. Handwashing, the Centers for Sickness Control and Prevention report, may help prevent disease in both yourself and others. Adhere to these measures after you eat, after you use the restroom, and as often as feasible.

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly with clean, running water and soap.

Step 2. Lather soap in your hands, working it into the back, front, between your fingers, and between your toes.

Step 3. For at least 20 seconds, scrub your hands.

Step 4. Thoroughly rinse your hands under running water.

Step 5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or allow them to air dry.