Definition - What does Antigen Test mean?
An antigen test is a clinical procedure involving tissue swab fluid samples of the mucus lining from the nasal/nasopharyngeal cavities, targeting the presence of specific proteins in the sample, which indicate current COVID-19 infection in the system. Antigens are compounds that trigger an immune system response through the release of antibodies.
SureHire explains Antigen Test
Also called rapid antigen detection tests, or RADTs, the antigen test is a cost-effective measure for exclusively identifying SARS-CoV-2 microbes, representing the COVID-19 viral strain, carrying asymptomatic conditions or latent symptoms highlighting initial phases of infection. Antigen tests can serve as a preemptive measure against the spread of COVID-19, hinging on the proportionate ratio of antibodies necessary to promote immunity between the point of exposure and testing of a nasal fluid sample. Consequently, a slow reactivity from homeostatic enzymes responsible for encoding immunity against infiltrating pathogens in the body can compromise the integrity of detecting viral agents, often skewing antigen test results with false negatives.
While classified as a form of diagnostic testing, antigen tests can present challenges as they have a relatively low sensitivity grade, compounding the margin of error when interpreting positive test results during transitional phases of COVID-19. Hence, a physician will perform an antigen test with a quick turnaround (15 minutes) for test results, coordinating auxiliary rapid test modalities such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, for example, for confirming positive test results. With rapid test initiatives mounting across Canada, an antigen test operates as another way of helping to control the rate of infection, paired with widespread safety practices including mask-wearing, hand sanitation, and social distancing.