Antigen testing FAQs

What is the BinaxNOW antigen test and when should it be used?

The BinaxNOW COVID Ag Card is a point-of-care, rapid antigen test that can provide results in 15 minutes or less. This test looks for the presence of specific proteins in your sample that are created by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. It was designed to detect infection in people who have symptoms of COVID-19. It can also be used to screen people who do not have symptoms in order to reduce the chances that an outbreak will occur.

 

Is this test the same as a molecular test or a PCR test?

No, antigen tests are not the same as molecular tests, such as PCR-based tests. Both tests require samples from the nose or throat to look for evidence of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, antigen tests look for proteins created by the virus, while molecular tests look for viral RNA. Although antigen tests often provide faster results than molecular tests do, they are not as sensitive as molecular tests. This means in some cases, people who are actually positive will have a negative test result from an antigen test. Rarely, people who are actually negative will have a positive result from an antigen test. This is much less likely to happen when someone takes a molecular test.

 

If I test positive, does that mean I am currently infected?

Yes, testing positive with this test means you are currently infected with the virus. Antigen tests are designed to look for specific proteins created by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your respiratory sample. If you test positive, it also means you are likely infectious to other people, even if you do not currently have any symptoms. If you do not have symptoms and receive a positive test result, it is often recommended that you confirm your results with a molecular test.

 

Can this test tell me if I have been infected before and have immunity to the virus? 

No, this test can’t tell you if you have been infected in the past or if you have antibodies that might make you immune to the virus. Antigen tests are designed to see if you are currently infected with the SARS-CoV02 virus. In order to determine whether you were previously infected, a different type of test called an “antibody test” is needed. Antibody tests look to see whether you have developed antibodies for the virus that causes COVID-19. If they are present, it means you were infected at some point in the past.

 

If I test positive, is another test needed?

If you test positive, it is often recommended that you confirm your result with a molecular test. This is because antigen tests are not as accurate as molecular tests, so there is a chance that a person who tests positive with an antigen test is not actually infected with the virus. This chance is much smaller if a person receives a positive result from a molecular test. Until you receive results from a molecular test, you should act as if you are infected and isolate from other people. 

 

If I test negative, is another test needed?

If you test negative and you don’t have any symptoms, it is unlikely that another test will be needed. If you do have symptoms, it is often recommended that you confirm your result with a molecular test. This is because antigen tests are not as accurate as molecular tests, so there is a chance that a person who tests negative with an antigen test is actually infected with the virus. This chance is much smaller if a person receives a negative result from a molecular test. Until you receive results from a molecular test, you should act as if you are infected and isolate from other people.