Experts warn rapid antigen tests have "reduced sensitivity" for detecting Omicron

Dec 28 2021, 11:25 pm

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning that rapid antigen tests may not always detect when a person is positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the FDA released new information suggesting that antigen tests do detect the Omicron variant but they may have reduced sensitivity.

The FDA says it is “collaborating with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) RADx program to study the performance of antigen tests with patient samples that have the omicron variant. RADx recently performed preliminary studies evaluating the performance of some antigen tests using patient samples containing live virus, which represents the best way to evaluate true test performance in the short-term.”

While these tests may have reduced sensitivity, people are still being encouraged to use them as directed.

The FDA goes on to say “if a person tests negative with an antigen test but is suspected of having COVID-19, such as experiencing symptoms or have a high likelihood of infection due to exposure, follow-up molecular testing is important for determining a COVID-19 infection.”

On Monday, the US CDC issued new guidance recommending people who have tested positive for COVID-19 only isolate for five days if they are not showing symptoms.

Amanda WawrykAmanda Wawryk

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