Review: Covid Rapid Antigen Testing – Part 2

This time (actually a few days ago) we will be sticking things up our nose. Last time I tried a saliva test, which was very easy to use but which had lower sensitivity. This time I’m using a test that swabs the inside of your nose and is technically in the “high sensitivity” range (see https://www.tga.gov.au/covid-19-rapid-antigen-self-tests-are-approved-australia )

The catch here is that the Hough COVID-19 Home Test (pdf,3.48Mb) may well be better at spotting whether you have covid but only if you do the test properly. This is a lot more complicated than the last one, as shown by all the bits and pieces you get.

This was from a pack of 2 tests – so there’s some duplication of stuff there

More steps mean more places where you can stuff things up. On the positive side, this feels a lot more like you are doing an exciting home experiment than the last test. Even more exciting is that ominous-looking black metal cylinder. That turns out to be a little UV light.

In the foil packet is one of those standard plastic rectangles that look a bit like a pregnancy test. However, to see the magic lines which reveal whether you do or don’t have covid (or whether you messed up the test), you have to use the UV torch. For this test, the line(s) aren’t visible in normal light but instead glow (faintly) under UV.

So 5 out of 10 for ease of use and 10 out of 10 for forensic science LARP vibes.

Next time: I’ll see what other types I can get. Apparently, NSW will start providing free tests in the new year.

[I didn’t have covid according to the test – phew]

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25 responses to “Review: Covid Rapid Antigen Testing – Part 2”

  1. Ontario botched the rollout of home test kits so I didn’t have an opportunity to try them out. As we crossed the border for Christmas, though, I did have both a regular PCR test and a Rapid ID test from Walgreens (the second since we were concerned that we wouldn’t get the PCR results back before we had to drive back).

    Negative for both.

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  2. “More steps mean more places where you can stuff things up”

    Well… for any given person, the number of such places is usually a constant. But in this case you’re definitely supposed to use the nose.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Due to having three knee surgeries and a fifty day in-hospital stay due to a staphylococcus infection, I’ve had eight Covid tests. All of them being the up the nose, apparently scrubbing out the brains feeling to them.

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    • Having had several tests, spread out over the last two years, the nurses are definitely getting more perfunctory with the nose prodding. But none compare to the nasal swab I had in 2018 to check for a sinus infection, which felt like my GP was excavating my sinuses with a mining drill.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had a septoplasty and turbinectomy a couple of decades ago in response to chronic sinus infections and headaches. I was out under a general during the operation (which straightens and widens your nasal passages and takes all the partitions out of your sinuses). I was sicker than a dog for 3 weeks, and my head swelled up like a lopsided medicine ball (because I always slept on one side, so that’s where the lymph drainage accumulated).

        I went in for the follow-up a week later. The ENT surgeon took a set of forceps and proceeded to pull about 10 feet of (ro13ed for the squeamish) oybbql gauze packing strip out of my sinus cavity (which I was not aware had been placed there). It was a morbidly fascinating experience like watching a magician pull a never-ending skein of scarves out of my nose, with bonus OMG you’re pulling my brain out of my skull pain.

        I am curious to see how my first COVID test will compare to that experience.

        Liked by 4 people

        • I had a similar experience. My deviated septum was the result of attempting to climb into my highchair when I was a toddler (I had apparently deduced that being in chair == getting fed) and pulling it over on my face. My parents never realized I’d broken my nose as toddler noses are rather flexible still; I learned it as an adult.

          Liked by 3 people

      • I was supposed to have two more such tests this month but both got cancelled as the in-hospital neurological evaluation this past week (a follow-up to the severe head trauma I suffered four years ago) didn’t come off as they’ve got staff shortages at MaineMed right now, and my hand surgery was put off until my blood sugar is better.

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        • I was supposed to have three over the next two weeks to meet the interstate travel requirements of my home and family’s state, but they keep changing the rules. Now we’re down to one RA test maybe before we go home or when we get there. For now, anyway.

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      • Even more brain scrambling is the deep swab they do for pertussis, as I learned the hard way. And it’s a notoriously difficult thing to swab and culture successfully. The symptoms are unique enough that my doctor had gone ahead with treatment regardless.
        That was also how I learned that pertussis vaccinations wane over time.

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        • My personal care assistant took the at home test on Tuesday which was positive because she was feeling under the weather. She got an appointment that afternoon at the community health center where the NP she saw told she had the flu after doing the standard Covid assessment tests, but ordered a over the night Covid test to be absolutely sure which came back negative. She’s out until tomorrow so I’ve had another care assistant for several days.

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  4. How long do you expect the UV light to last? That’s a nice bonus to keep if it’s at all lasting.

    Did you play dramatic music while assembling the parts and checking the result like they do on CSI? If I get a test like that, I am definitely going with a soundtrack.

    One has to find fun where one can.

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      • Does it say what wavelength it produces? It’s usually 365 or 395 nm. The former is great for finding scorpions – they light up like a Christmas tree.

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          • I don’t think so. Scorpions specifically have a highly fluorescent compound, beta-carboline, in their cuticle for reasons that the last time I checked weren’t entirely clear.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Also, we have very similar tests here (UK) which give results visible in ordinary light. I wouldn’t mind knowing what factors influenced the choice.

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            • Probably minute differences in protein structures, influencing what dye to choose for the line(s). Probably more restricted for “what binds to the antigen well” than “what binds to the carrier liquid”. There may be other factors that someone who is actually in the field can mention, but that’s what seems likely to my “I haven’t done any chemistry in a lab for nearly 30 years” mind.

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            • I had a little look around, and apparently it’s just sensitivity. A smaller response is visible, at the cost of having to give lots of people a fairly cool toy. Checking out the designs on banknotes and official documents is another enjoyable way to pass a few minutes.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Americans looking for a free (for basic) or paid (for faster service, travel proof etc.) might consider

    https://www.covidclinic.org/

    It’s drive-thru, because America. Mostly in mall parking lots. None in the middle of the country, of course.

    Not an endorsement, but an actual MD did tell me about it. No fun lights to keep afterwards, but if you’re willing to wait 3 days for results, it’s FREE. Works on omicron, tests are sent to a real lab.

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  6. I can highly recommended the RightSign nasal swab test. The instructions are easy to follow and the results are clear and unambiguous and appear quite quickly and I’ll be isolating in my room for the next week if anyone needs me.

    Symptoms aren’t bad. I’m double-and-a-bit vaxxed (got my booster a bit too recently for it to have kicked in) and I’m feeling about halfway between light hayfever and a mild cold levels of respiratory distress.

    Liked by 2 people

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