Rapid antigen tests: Local doctor discusses accuracy and when to use them

MIAMI VALLEY — Free COVID-19 rapid tests from the federal government are on the way to people across the country.

Dr. Joseph Allen, with Premier Health, said there is a big delineation with when to use those rapid antigen tests.

“Use it when you have think you have Covid, not when you think you’ve been exposed,” Allen said.

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If you think you have been exposed to Covid, Allen said you should only use rapid antigen test if your contact was a high level exposure that lasted more than 15 minutes, within three feet of someone and without a mask. Even then, Allen said you should wait at least two to four days to take the test.

“Don’t test the next day. Don’t test that evening. It’s not going to show you anything,” Allen said. “It could give you a false sense of security.”

While some people trust the rapid tests, others are skeptical.

“I don’t know if they’re 100 percent,” Noah Bittner, of Kettering, said.

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Allen said nothing is 100 percent accurate, but the rapid tests are “pretty darn close” and help take some of the burden off of testing sites.

Allen also said if you have Covid symptoms and still test negative, it is a good idea to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be safe.