The antigen test is a test that detects the presence of certain virus proteins of the new coronavirus in nose and throat mucus. The test gives a result after fifteen minutes after use. Laboratories, hospitals, GGD Municipal Health Service and RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment are working closely together in the research to collect information and to see how this type of test can be used in practice, in addition to and partly to replace the current one. PCR polymerase chain reaction assays. While initial research results in the testing lanes are hopeful, evaluations have yet to be finalized. The test must also be investigated in situations other than the test lanes. It is important to properly prepare for commissioning of the tests.
Application in practice
A working group consisting of experts from the reference laboratories, GGDs, hospitals and the RIVM is now working out for which groups the test has the most added value. There are also challenges in logistics. Because although the test gives a quick result, it takes considerably more time to deploy and read it than the analysis of a PCR test. A laboratory analyst can analyze about 600 tests per day in the current most used PCR test. The same analyst can analyze about 60 antigen tests per day. This has consequences for the required personnel capacity.
The antigen test does not detect all infections. A positive test result indicates that someone has the virus and usually in quantities that make the person infectious at the time. The sensitivity of the test scores well on this. But with a negative test result, the test also misses people who actually have the virus, but have yet to become infectious. Depending on the reasons why someone has been tested, it may then be decided, for example, to repeat the test after a number of days. It is important to pay attention to this in communication with the tested people.
Various studies will be conducted into the rapid antigen test in the coming period. Next week, RIVM will investigate the operation of the test in collaboration with GGD Haaglanden and GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond, among others. RIVM analysts will perform the analyzes of the antigen tests at various locations in mobile laboratories of the RIVM. At the test lanes where the antigen rapid tests are examined, people who come for a test are asked whether they want to participate in the rapid test in addition to the standard PCR test.
Basic rules remain important
If the test is used in practice, it remains important that people adhere to the basic rules: keep your distance, wash hands, stay at home in case of complaints and have yourself tested in case of complaints.