News Coronavirus Which test is best? Everything you need to know about buying rapid antigen tests
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Which test is best? Everything you need to know about buying rapid antigen tests

Rapid antigen tests nsw
The NSW government is examining how it will compel people to report rapid test results. Photo: Getty
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Health authorities are urging Australians to use rapid antigen tests this holiday season, as Omicron cases surge and traditional COVID testing clinics become overburdened.

There are 15 different rapid antigen tests approved for sale in Australia (excluding South Australia and Western Australia), but the accuracy and cost vary between products.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration assesses rapid antigen tests on their clinical sensitivity, which is the percentage of positive test results from a group of known COVID patients who have already tested positive with PCR tests.

The worst-performing rapid antigen test sold in Australia was found to return positive results for 82.5 per cent of known cases.

But many rapid antigen tests are almost as accurate as PCR tests, with their clinical sensitivity sitting above 97 or 98 per cent.

“But that increases to 99.9 – and sometimes higher – if you test consecutively over a few days,” UNSW epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws told The New Daily.

Different rapid antigen tests work in different ways. Some require a nose or throat swab, while others test a saliva sample.

Other factors to take into consideration include cost, as well as quantity – some test kits can only be bought individually, while others come in packs of five, seven or even 20.

Although rapid antigen tests are selling out at supermarkets and pharmacies across the east coast, and the best rapid antigen test is the one you can get soonest, there’s still an opportunity to shop around when purchasing rapid antigen tests online.

Here’s how they all stack up, in order of most to least sensitive.

Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
Photo: Supplied

Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 98.1 per cent (very high)
  • Made in Germany
  • Price: $15 for one, $50 for four, $120 for 10

 

OnSite COVID-19 Ag Self Test
Photo: Supplied

OnSite COVID-19 Ag Self Test

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 97.6 per cent (very high)
  • Made in the US
  • Price: $35 for two

 

All Test COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Nasal Swab)
Photo: Supplied

All Test COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Nasal Swab)

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 95.9 per cent (very high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $15 for 1, $200 for 20

 

V-Chek COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test
Photo: Supplied

V-Chek COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test

  • Type: Saliva
  • Sensitivity: 95.65 per cent (very high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $15 for one, $330 for 20

 

LYHER Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Antigen Test Kit (colloidal Gold)
Photo: Supplied

LYHER Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Antigen Test Kit (colloidal Gold)

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 95 per cent (very high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $10 for one, $60 for seven

 

TESTSEALABS COVID-19 Antigen Test Cassette
Photo: Supplied

TESTSEALABS COVID-19 Antigen Test Cassette

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 95 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $220 for 20

 

Orawell COVID-19 Ag Rapid saliva test device (Self-test)
Photo: Supplied

Orawell COVID-19 Ag Rapid saliva test device (Self-test)

  • Type: Saliva
  • Sensitivity: 94.74 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $15 for one

 

Hough COVID-19 Home Test
Photo: Supplied

Hough COVID-19 Home Test

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 94.12 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $30 for two, $50 for five

 

RightSign COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (Nasal Swab)
Photo: Supplied

RightSign COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (Nasal Swab)

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 93.2 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $10 for one, $25 for two

 

All Test COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid)
Photo: Supplied

All Test COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid)

  • Type: Oral fluid
  • Sensitivity: 90.1 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $15 for 1, $50 for five, $200 for 20

 

My Covid Test Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid) (ICOV-802H) Self-Test
Photo: Supplied

My Covid Test Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Fluid) (ICOV-802H) Self-Test

  • Type: Oral fluid
  • Sensitivity: 90.1 per cent (high)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $15 for 1, $50 for five, $200 for 20

 

InnoScreen COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device
Photo: Supplied

InnoScreen COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 89.47 per cent (acceptable)
  • Made in Australia
  • Price: $25 for two, $50 for five

 

Ecotest COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test kit
Photo: Supplied

Ecotest COVID-19 Antigen Saliva Test kit

  • Type: Saliva
  • Sensitivity: 88.9 per cent (acceptable)
  • Made in China
  • Price: $25 for two, $60 for five

 

CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
Photo: Supplied

CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 87.18 per cent (acceptable)
  • Made in the US
  • Price: $15 for 1

 

SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self Test Nasal
Photo: Supplied

SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self Test Nasal

  • Type: Nasal swab
  • Sensitivity: 82.5 per cent (acceptable)
  • Made in South Korea
  • Price: $55 for five.