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COVID-19 Antigen Tests Comparison Review

In this article, we compare and contrast different Rapid Antigen Test Kits.

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What do COVID-19 rapid antigen tests do?

Rapid antigen tests can screen COVID-19 virus effectively and have become an effective screening tool for businesses, large factories, schools, and homes due to their easy-to-use feature. Most rapid antigen tests can provide you with the result within 15 minutes with more than 90% accuracy. If you interpret the result as positive within the suggested reading frame, please schedule a PCR molecular test with a local clinic and remain quarantined according to Health Canada policies. Antigen tests are only supposed to be interpreted within the recommended time frame, any reading past 30 minutes will be invalid.

There are many brands of rapid antigen tests that have been approved, different brands could differ in their sensitivity and specificity. Different rapid antigen tests can also differ in detection time, packaging, number of tests, etc. This article will review the most popular and current rapid antigen COVID-19 products available in the Canadian market. All the specifications will be later summarized into a table with each product’s specificity, sensitivity, quantity that comes in each kit. The sample collection method differs by collecting from Anterior Nasal (AN) also known as a shallow nasal swab, and Nasopharyngeal (NP) wherein the swabs go deeper behind the nose above the pharynx. Although NP could be less comfortable to most people, the NP swabs will have higher sensitivity and higher accuracy compared to nasal swabs.

Antigen Tests in the market

1. SwiftSwab™ COVID -19 Antigen Self Test

SwiftSwab™ Covid-19 Antigen Self Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2. The test is authorized for home use with self-collected anterior nasal (nares) swabs from individuals aged 14 years and older when tested twice over three days with at least 24 hours (and no more than 48 hours) between tests.

2. CovClear COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

CovClear COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test. This kit include items for 25 tests. Kit has a QR code on it that can be scanned for telehealth, instructions, and result certification. Make sure to scan the QR code before you open the kit.

This rapid antigen kit is developed and manufactured in the USA and is now under interim order (IO#330172) for home-test use. CovClear highlights an easier testing procedure since no reader or cassette is required. It also has high specificity (~100%) as well as sensitivity (~96%) and comes with each test being individually packed, which allows the Business owners to distribute these tests to each of their employees without handing out a whole box. It is a lower nasal test, which is less invasive for the users compared to a nasal-pharyngeal test. The kit has three sizes available: 2 packs, 25 packs, and 50 packs.

3. Artron COVID-19 Antigen Test

Rapid Antigen Test kit with white background. The Artron kit costs $58 for 5 tests/box. Approved by Health Canada for testing for COVID-19. COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit made by Artron. The kit includes a swab. The swab can be nasal or nasopharyngeal swab. Instructions are included in the kit.

Artron antigen tests are manufactured and distributed in Canada. It is under interim order (IO#327866) for lab-based and point-of-care use. Artron antigen tests are effective for detecting both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. It has a high sensitivity at 97.22% and specificity at 99.72%. Artron is recently approved for both nasal test and nasopharyngeal test that is more comfortable to perform for some individuals. It comes in 25 Test cassettes, 25 individually packed swabs,  25 extraction tubes, 25 extraction tube caps, 25 sealed sample buffers,1 tube rack,  1 package insert.

Comparison table

BrandSpecificity (%)Sensitivity (%)Shelf Life (Months)ApplicationCollection Method(s)AsymptomaticSynmptomaticFDA/EUA Authorized
Abbott Panbio99.891.424POCNPNoYesYes
Acon Flowflex99.4(NP)/99.5(AN)97.6(NP)/97.1(AN)24POCNP/ANYesYesNo
Assure Tech FaStep98.3(NP)/100(AN)94.3(NP)/92.3(AN)18POCNP/ANNoYesNo
Boson98.0493.7518Lab basedNPNoYesNo
Empowered CovClear10095.512OTCANYesYesNo
PBM Status COVID-19/Flu A&B10093.112POCNPNoYesYes
Quidel QuickVue (at home)99.381.324OTCNP/ANYesYesYes
SD Biosensor10094.9424POCNP/ANYesYesNo
*AN: Anterior Nasal - also known as a shallow nasal swab; NP: Nasopharyngeal - wherein the swabs go deeper behind the nose above the pharynx

*All data is subject to change. Latest update: Dec 13 2021.