How to use COVID-19 antigen self-test? Method of sample processing and result reading

Q1: What is antigen testing? How is it different from nucleic acid testing?

Answer: Antigens measure proteins on the surface of the virus. Antigen detection is simple and easy to operate, with short time to obtain results, but less sensitive.

The nucleic acid tests for the RNA (that is, the genes in the virus) of the Novel Coronavirus. Nucleic acid detection is complex and has strict requirements on laboratory environment, which requires corresponding instruments and equipment. It takes a long time to obtain results, but the sensitivity and specificity are higher.

Q2: Can antigen tests replace nucleic acid tests?

Answer: No. As a supplementary means, antigen detection can be used for screening specific populations, which is conducive to improving the ability of "early detection". However, nucleic acid tests remain the basis for confirming novel coronavirus infection.

Q3: Who can take an antigen self-test?

Answer: Three kinds of people:

1. People who go to primary medical and health institutions with respiratory symptoms, fever and other symptoms within 5 days.

2. Quarantine observation personnel, including those in home quarantine observation, close contact and sub-close contact, entry quarantine observation, sealed area and controlled area.

3. Community residents in need of antigen self-detection.

Q4: How to use antigen self test?

1. Preparation for antigen self-test

(1)Wash your hands

Wash hands with running water or hand sanitizer.

(2)Understand the testing process

Carefully read the instructions of antigen self-test reagents and related matters needing attention.

(3)Prepare reagents

Check whether the antigen self-test reagent is within the warranty period, and check whether the contents of nasal swabs, sample tubes and test cards are missing or damaged.

Note: If the reagent expires or the reagent contents are missing or damaged, the reagent should be replaced in time

(4)Check the test environment

Colloidal gold strip detection is generally required at 14℃ to 30℃ under normal temperature conditions, to avoid excessive cold, overheating or humid environment resulting in abnormal test results. Remove the antigen test card and place it in a flat, clean place.

2. Sample collection

(1)Blow your nose with toilet paper

(2)Carefully unpack the nasal swab and avoid touching the swab head

(3) Tilt your head slightly back, hold the swab tail in one hand, and enter the nasal cavity with one side of the nose. Slowly penetrate 1-1.5 cm backward along the bottom of the lower nasal canal, then rotate the nasal cavity with at least 4 turns (stay time is not less than 15 seconds), then repeat the same operation with the same swab on the other nasal cavity


Nasal swabs can be taken by patients over 14 years of age

For those aged 2-14, adults are required to take samples

Q5: What do you do when you get the test results?

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Positive antigen test:

Regardless of whether they have respiratory or fever symptoms, residents should immediately report to their communities and cooperate with local epidemic prevention and control measures.

Antigen test negative:

Asymptomatic residents can be kept under close observation and tested for antigen or nucleic acid if necessary; Residents with symptoms are advised to go to medical institutions with fever clinics as soon as possible for nucleic acid testing; If it is inconvenient to see a doctor, they should be self-isolated at home, avoid going out and take an antigen self-test every day for 5 consecutive days.

Q6: How to deal with the used self-testing reagent?

Positive test result:

All used sample swabs, sampling tubes and test cards shall be put into sealed bags and disposed of by professionals.

Negative test result:

All used sample swabs, sampling tubes, test cards, etc. shall be put into sealed bags and disposed of as general waste.

Q7: Will vaccination against COVID-19 affect antigen test results?


False-positive tests for novel Coronavirus antigens may occur immediately after vaccination with novel Coronavirus inactivated vaccine. Antigen testing is generally not recommended within 24 hours of vaccination.

Post time: Mar-28-2022