Vol. 2 No. 9 (2022)
Health Technology Reviews

Considerations for the Use of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests

Published September 2, 2022

Key Messages

  • Self-testing for COVID-19 infection is quick and convenient. For those with symptoms, it supports rapid diagnosis without the risk of infecting others to travel for testing. For those without symptoms, it can provide information and reassurance before, or following, group interactions. Most rapid tests procured and distributed by governments for use by the public have been rapid antigen tests.
  • A COVID-19 test can only be a self-test if everyone can use it without assistance. Inequity is increased if some in the community are unable to use a rapid test and cannot access the knowledge that the result of a rapid test offers.
  • For broad community accessibility, there are considerations that could increase equitable access to rapid COVID-19 tests. These include but are not limited to: alternatives to nose swabbing, such as saliva, buccal, or breath testing; tests suitable for use with infants, especially those too young for vaccination; low cost, and/or available in single packages to distribute cost over time, produced and distributed quickly and widely; used and stored beyond temperature ranges of 2C to 30C for use in homes or vehicles without climate control; instructions and results presented in tactile, braille, large print, digital app, and/or audio formats and presented in additional languages to English and French.