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Learn more about the Science and Benefits of Rapid Testing

Updated: May 11, 2022

Benefits of Home Testing

COVID-19 has increased public awareness of the importance of testing as a vital component of healthcare. There is only one way to know for sure with any disease or infection – and that is testing. From pregnancy tests, usually available over the counter at pharmacies, to tests for STDs such as HIV or syphilis - rapid tests have become a critical tool in helping people understand their health better.

More recently, COVID-19 rapid antigen tests have become more commonplace to help quickly test for infection and help reduce the transmission of the virus, assisting overwhelmed medical facilities and testing facilities.

What is a Rapid Test?

Rapid tests are quick diagnostic tests performed by an individual at home or by a medical professional or trained tester (for example, those administered at testing sites or at-work testing clinics) with fast results, often in as little as 15 minutes. Simply put, these diagnostic tests are used to confirm the presence or absence of a target analyte – such as a pathogen or biomarker.

A rapid test usually contains a control line to confirm the test is working correctly. This allows the individual to conduct the test without any additional equipment (sometimes, a timer is recommended to make sure the individual checks the test within the required timeframe (usually within 15 to 30 minutes.)

Due to their versatility, rapid tests are used worldwide to test for various conditions and, in some cases, are even used to check contaminants in food, water supplies, and even animal feeds.

These tests are used globally and for various medical conditions, diseases, and infections, and as such, they often go by other names. These include:

· Lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA)

· Lateral flow tests (LFT)

· Lateral flow device (LFD)

· Dipstick

· Test strip

· Pen-side tests

How They Work

Rapid tests can use different types of samples. Nasal, throat, urine, blood, and serum tests are common sample types. Most COVID-19 rapid tests, including the iStatis COVID-19 Antigen Home Test, work with an anterior nasal swab, that is, the sample is taken from your nose, about 2 cm deep. Some other tests work with deeper-penetrating nasal swabs, called nasopharyngeal swabs, while others use saliva or throat swabs. Other tests, such as for STDs, like the INSTI® HIV-1/2 Antibody Self Test or the INSTI® HCV Antibody Test (hepatitis), use a drop of blood taken from a fingerpick to test for antibodies to determine the presence of the virus.

Rapid antigen COVID-19 tests work by detecting a portion of the protein on the surface of the virus and are often done by nasal or throat swab. By adding the sample to a liquid solution, it is then added to the cartridge (or cassette) for quick results (on average, in 15 minutes - some tests are faster, and some take up to 30 minutes). A rapid test tells you whether the virus is present in high concentrations and can help identify if a person is contagious.

Uses of Rapid Tests

Rapid tests have many uses, including (but not limited to):

· Screening (such as for STDs, such as our INSTI® lineup)

· Diagnosis (such as for COVID-19, though it is important to note that only a doctor can formally diagnose a health condition)

· Monitoring (such as tracking blood sugar levels)

· Ancestry research (testing to analyze DNA to reveal family history)

Benefits of Rapid Home Testing

Rapid testing can help ease the burden on busy and often overwhelmed medical facilities and help reduce transmission by allowing people to test in the comfort and privacy of homes. With their low cost, portability, and room stable storage, rapid tests can help people take a test when and where they need one. They offer a way to get more people tested quickly and often help reach people who cannot always access a medical center for testing.

Rapid tests are:

· Easy to take with simple and straight-forward instructions

· Safe to administer

· Do not need to be sent to a laboratory for processing, saving time to get and act on results

· Often produce results within 15-30 minutes

· Most (but not all) COVID-19 tests take an anterior nasal swab, eliminating the need for a deep-penetrating nasopharyngeal swab

· Antibody tests often require just one drop of blood to test, or 50 μL (microliters)

· Usually inexpensive, making them good for mass-testing or regular testing efforts

· Encourages additional testing by reaching those who may be concerned about privacy

· Helps increase the ability to do regular and frequent testing to help reduce the transmission of infections

Some Quick Testing Tips

· Always check the expiry date

· Tests are usually single-use, so make sure to use each test only once

· Read the directions thoroughly before use (often called the Instructions for Use or Package Insert)

· Most rapid tests have training videos – check the package for more information or check the company’s website or social media to watch their video

· Check the acceptable age use on the package as some packages are approved for use for ages two and up (with adults performing the test for the youth) while some are not

· Wash your hands and avoid eating, drinking, or smoking 30 minutes before your test

· If you receive a positive result, make sure to contact your doctor for confirmatory testing, or in the case of COVID-19, follow your local government’s mandates and advice

· For any concerns or discussion of results, it is important to contact your doctor to discuss further

· For more information, contact the company of your test (you can reach us at iStatis here) or check out your local government’s website for more info

Allowing people to test at home helps slow the spread of COVID-19, provides a convenient and simple option to know their status quickly, and helps reduce the burden on busy medical and testing facilities.


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