Antigen Testing for Coronavirus

Publication date: 03.11.2021
test antygenowy covid

The COVID-19 antigen test detects specific viral antigens (structures that the body recognizes as foreign) that stimulate our immune system. Antigens are detectable only in the early stages of the infection (when the coronavirus is actively multiplying). So, it is recommended to perform this type of test in the early stages of the disease. 

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What is Antigen Testing?

An antigen test is one type of laboratory test that detects the presence of the coronavirus. Its purpose is to detect SARS-CoV-2 antigens in the specimen from the respiratory tract that indicate a current or past infection.

Same as RT-PCR and FRANKD (RT-LAMP) tests, the antigen test is now recognized by the Chief Sanitary Inspector.

You can get the antigen test at Testing Centers. The result is available after several minutes from the moment of taking the sample. That is why the test is also called rapid antigen tests.

The tests used at the Damiana Medical Centre are characterized by:

  • sensitivity of 96.52% (Roche), 93.3% (Abbot);
  • specificity of 99.68% (Roche), 99.4% (Abbot).

When to perform an antigen test?

According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, antigen tests can be used, for instance, to diagnose infections in symptomatic patients within the first 5-7 days after the onset of symptoms. It is not a screening test.

If you suspect SARS-CoV-2 infection but have no symptoms, perform a molecular test (RT-PCR or RT-LAMP)

How is the antigen test taken?

  1. The healthcare professionals take a medical history because the interpretation of the antigen test result depends on the patient's health.
  2. The patient tilts the head back. The nurse inserts a sterile swab into the nose, takes the material by gently rubbing and rotating the swab for about 10 seconds in each nostril.
  3. The patient is asked to wait for the result. During this time, the medical staff performs a test on the collected sample.
  4. The result is provided to the patient after 15-30 minutes.

Interpretation of the antigen test results

The test may give positive, negative, or invalid results, but the interpretation depends on the patient's health status.

If the test was performed in an individual with COVID-19 clinical symptoms:

  • A positive result means you should be put in isolation. There is no need to repeat the test (due to the special epidemic situation in Poland, the national definition of a confirmed COVID-19 case of 31 October 2020 includes the possibility of laboratory confirmation of the case by detecting the SARS-CoV-2 antigen in the clinical material),
  • A negative result does exclude SARS-CoV-2 infection. To confirm that you do not have a virus, you should do an RT-PCR test. You should undergo quarantine until you obtain a negative molecular test result. 

If the test was performed in an individual without COVID-19 symptoms, the results may be false. If you 

If the test shows an invalid result, it should be repeated immediately.

Antigen test price

The prices of antigen tests in Poland vary, for instance, due to their characteristics. When selecting a test, please pay attention to whether its sensitivity and specificity are in line with the recommendations of Polish experts.

At the Damiana Medical Centre, we use Roche and Abbot tests, which are characterized by high sensitivity and specificity. The price of the test is PLN 150*.