Evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests provide benefits for epidemic control -- observations from Austrian schools
Rapid antigen tests detect proteins at the surface of virus particles, identifying the disease during its infectious phase. In contrast, PCR tests detect viral genomes; they can thus diagnose COVID-19 before the infectious phase but also react to remnants of the virus genome, even weeks after live virus ceases to be detectable in the respiratory tract. Furthermore, the logistics for administering the tests are different, with rapid antigen tests being much easier to administer at-scale. In this article, we discuss the relative advantages of the different testing procedures and summarise evidence that shows that using antigen tests 2-3 times per week could become a powerful tool to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic. We also discuss the results of recent large-scale rapid antigen testing in Austrian schools. While our report on testing predates Delta, we have updated the review with recent data on viral loads in breakthrough infections and more information about testing efficacy, especially in children.
- Pub Date:
- March 2021
- Quantitative Biology - Populations and Evolution
- We have updated the article with recent data on viral loads in breakthrough infections and more information about testing efficacy, especially in children