Cheap and quick: Could rapid antigen testing be the way out of lockdown?

If there is one thing that people with differing views on Covid-19 lockdowns agree on, it is the importance of effective, rapid testing to identify infections.

Increasingly, this is not just about the number of tests you can do, but also the type of tests involved.
Up to now, more than a hundred million tests carried out globally on people have used a technology known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This is generally described as “exquisitely sensitive” and the “gold standard” of testing for the virus. But it is also slow, expensive and, like all tests, imperfect.
There is a risk of false negatives where a person is pre-infectious, and also of misleading positive results in people who are post-infectious and no longer a danger to anyone.
For most of the pandemic, there have been alternatives to PCR that are cheaper and quicker, but which have failed to pass muster on accuracy grounds.

That situation is changing now, with the increasing use of rapid antigen testing internationally in a variety of settings, and its limited acceptance by local health authorities.

"In an ideal world, you could test yourself every morning, and head off to school or work, or even a concert, on the back of a negative result."

Unlike PCR, which looks for the RNA of the virus, these tests look for specific proteins made by Covid-19. The test, which takes 10-15 minutes to produce a result, involves swabbing the nose or throat, dipping the swab into a vial of viral medium and putting some drops from this on to a testing strip.

Each test costs about €5, compared to about €150 for a PCR test.

Since last month, the Health Service Executive has started counting a positive antigen result as an infection in official data; previously, this had to come from a PCR test. Antigen testing has been approved for use in settings such as hospitals, where there are outbreaks and high numbers of symptomatic patients.

Supporters of antigen testing want to see the technology used more widely. The way out of lockdown, they suggest, is in part through mass antigen testing, so infections can be quickly detected.


Saliva collection is faster and more scalable than swab collection, which can increase the number of people inspected each day.


1. Convenient and effective for collecting SARS-CoV-2 samples.
2. Painless (no patient discomfort and anxiety for sampling).
3. Easy collection and applicable in remote areas & Suitable for on-site, home and clinic-based sampling.
4. Relatively cheap technology (Cheap to store and ship)
5. Cost-effective applicability for screening large populations.
6. Safer collection for health professionals than other biological samples such as nasopharyngeal swabs and blood.
7. Easy to handle & Possible multisampling.



Simple, fast, convenient testing

The UNIBIOSCIENCE SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Nasal Test is an immunochromatographic assay for the qualitative detec- tion of SARS CoV 2 nucleocapsid antigen in human nasal swabs. Nasal sampling involves collecting the specimen from the anterior portion of the nose rather than the nasopharynx. This sample collection is more comfortable for the subject. The test also offers subjects the opportunity to collect their nasal sample themselves.




Why is screening with antigen Test so important

The implementation of objective-driven and sustainable testing strategies for COVID-19 supports the overall public health response to the pandemic and hel- ps mitigate its impact on vulnerable populations and healthcare systems, while ensuring that societies and economies can continue to function as described in the document on COVID-19 testing strategies and objectives.

ECDC proposes five main objectives for testing:

- to control transmission
- to monitor SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates and severity
- to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in healthcare and social care settings to detect clusters or outbreaks in specific settings
- to maintain COVID-19 elimination status once achieved.

The spectrum of our activities and services



Rapid Antigen Test


September 26, 2020
What is Screening
September 26, 2020
What types are there and how are they different?
September 25, 2020
Diagnostic Tests and Antibody Tests
April 23, 2020
When Antigen When Antibody Testing
April 23, 2020
Antibody vs Antigen Testing for COVID-19
April 23, 2020
Coronavirus Testing Basics

Our Quality for Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test

Sensitivity: 97,44% (95% CI: 95.47% to 98.72%)
Specificity: 99,30% (95% CI: 98.68% to 99.68%)