New Study Questions Rapid Tests Ability to Detect Omicron

New Study Questions Rapid Tests Ability to Detect Omicron

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the omicron variant is now accounting for 95% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States. Only two weeks prior, this variant accounted for about one third (38%) of national cases. The rapid and highly transmissible qualities of this variant mean now, more than ever, individuals need accurate testing options for COVID-19. 

As at-home antigen tests fly off the shelves of pharmacies and lines wrap around testing sites, research shows many of these tests may be offering a rapid result, but not an accurate one. 

In a new study Discordant SARS-CoV-2 PCR and Rapid Antigen Test Results When Infectious: A December 2021 Occupational Case Series, researchers found rapid antigen tests were unable to detect the Omicron variant in the first few days of infection, when transmission risk was possible. 

The Study

Through the month of December 2021, researchers identified 30 individuals who took rapid antigen and PCR tests at the same time. On days zero and one, all rapid antigen tests produced false-negative results, despite 28 out of 30 of the cases having confirmed Omicron viral loads. PCR tests, on the other hand, were able to produce results with 95% confidence in three days. 

The researchers concluded "based on viral load and transmissions confirmed through epidemiological investigation, most Omicron cases were infectious for several days before being detectable by rapid antigen tests." 

Testing in the Workplace 

In response to COVID-19, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) steps to implement a mandate requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is either fully vaccinated or require those unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on a weekly basis before coming to work.

The results of this study, however, question whether rapid antigen testing is the most effective way to ensure a safe work environment.

"Rapid antigen tests may not be as fit-for-purpose in routine workplace screening to prevent asymptomatic spread of Omicron, compared to prior variants, given the shorter time from exposure to infectiousness and lower infectious doses sufficient for transmission," the study concludes. 

The researchers go on to note the limit of detection in their study was even substantially lower than manufacturers have reported to the FDA, meaning other tests have higher chances of producing false negatives than the one in this study. 

The Clarifi COVID-19 Saliva Test currently has the lowest limit of detection (LoD) on the market. This PCR test has been used over 4 million times in businesses, universities, and communities across New York State to identify all strands of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant. 

Don't leave your health and safety up to question. Choose a test that will provide the most accurate answers in just 24-48 hours. Learn more about the Clarifi COVID-19 Saliva test today by clicking here.