COVID-19 test myths you shouldn’t believe

It’s easy to overlook the other crucial instruments we have at our disposal for containing the COVID-19 pandemic when so many individuals are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Testing is a very crucial element that shouldn’t be disregarded.

Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings concerning these exams, making it difficult for consumers to distinguish fact from fiction.

Here, professionals dispel some of the most widespread misconceptions about COVID-19 testing and explain how to utilize rapid antigen tests properly. You can read in detail about rapid antigen tests by visiting

COVID-19 test myths you shouldn’t believe

Myth 1: You should only have a COVID-19 test if you are experiencing symptoms

Factual statement: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage testing in a variety of circumstances. One of these situations is undoubtedly when you have COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever or chills, headache, nausea, and loss of taste or smell, among other problems, whether or not you have had the vaccination.

However, there are more circumstances when testing is necessary. The CDC recommends testing right away, then again five to seven days later if you are unvaccinated and five to seven days after exposure if you are completely vaccinated if you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

You have a higher chance of getting into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 when you attend big events and spend time in busy indoor areas.

The CDC recommends that if you are unvaccinated and travel inside the United States, you should be tested three to five days later. Even if your test is negative, you should remain at home and practice self-quarantine for seven complete days. Whether you are immunized or not, testing may be necessary both before you depart for abroad and again before you arrive.

Thersa Sweet, Ph.D., MPH, associate teaching professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Drexel University in Philadelphia, adds, “I would also advocate at least conducting a fast home test if you are expecting to meet someone who is immunosuppressed or old” to avoid unintentionally infecting them.

Myth 2: Excessive testing is to blame for increases in COVID-19 instances

According to Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the manager of the Johns Hopkins Center’s COVID-19 Testing Toolkit, testing is a crucial approach for health professionals to monitor how prevalent the virus is in a community.

Dr. Gronvall claims that while testing has increased our knowledge of instances, additional cases have not resulted from testing.

Myth 2: Excessive testing is to blame for increases in COVID-19 instances.

Some individuals attribute increases in COVID-19 instances to an overabundance of testing, although scientists dispute that theory. Dr. Sweet asserts that if the percentage of positive rapid antigen tests is large, not enough individuals are being tested. “Every spike I have observed recently goes hand in hand with a rise in the % positive, showing that the spikes represent actual increases in the virus in a community,” she continues. Click here to read about Are at-home rapid antigen tests accurate?

Myth 3: PCR rapid antigen tests are usually preferable to antigen rapid antigen tests

The two kinds of testing used to find COVID-19 are distinct. One is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which scans for signs of the virus’ genetic material and is able to detect infection in its early stages. These exams are offered at specific COVID-19 testing facilities, as well as in clinics, hospitals, and other places. Samples are submitted to a lab, which normally returns findings in one to several days.

The second primary kind of diagnostic test is an antigen test, commonly referred to as a fast test, which identifies the presence of a certain molecule that suggests a present viral infection but does not explicitly record it, making it a little less precise. This kind of test is performed at home since results may be obtained quickly.

The ideal test is the one that is easily accessible, according to Melanie Swift, MD, MPH, co-chair of the Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group in Rochester, Minnesota, especially for someone who is showing signs of COVID-19 or is more at risk of infection.

Myth 3: PCR rapid antigen tests are usually preferable to antigen rapid antigen tests.

For optimum accuracy, Dr. Swift advises doing either a second antigen test, often 24 to 48 hours later, or a PCR test to confirm if you have a negative result (meaning the test indicates you don’t have COVID-19). This is because the antigen test has the potential to overlook low levels of infection.

According to her, the antigen test is often the best choice. Rapid antigen tests are a useful option for persons without symptoms who wish to be examined before or after traveling or who need to be tested as part of a surveillance program since they can be performed at home, according to Swift.

Myth 4: Testing is really unpleasant since the swab has to enter your nose very deeply

The nasopharynx, or place where your nose meets the top of your throat, is where swabs must be inserted for COVID-19 testing at the start of the pandemic. Since there is where the coronavirus replicates, scientists were certain that if viral activity existed, it would be discovered there.

But because many individuals find it uncomfortable to have a swab inserted far into their nasal passages, testing parameters were altered to include only the middle of the passageway, or the mid-turbinate region, which is less than an inch in. Sweet declares, “This is much more pleasant and simple.”

The most reliable samples are still those collected from the nasopharynx. According to a review study that appeared in PLoS One in July 2021, rapid antigen tests that use a nasopharynx swab are 98 percent accurate, whereas rapid antigen tests that use mid-turbinate or even shallower swabs are between 82 and 88 percent reliable.

However, the capacity to test more individuals compensates for this decreased sensitivity, therefore the study’s authors conclude that adopting a shallower sample is worthwhile.

Myth 5: If a box has two fast rapid antigen tests, you should only use one and keep the other for a later time

Factual statement: A number of the current quick COVID-19 test brands, including the Abbott BinaxNOW and the Quidel QuickVue, are packaged in sets of two.

If one of these rapid antigen tests yields a negative result, you are recommended to perform the second test within three days, allowing at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours to elapse between rapid antigen tests (check the instructions in your kit to verify).

This is due to the possibility of false negative results from antigen testing if you test too early in the course of your illness when your virus levels are too low to be identified. If you do have COVID-19 by the time you do the second test, it should be positive.

(If any of the two rapid antigen tests is positive, contact your doctor and remain at home, and avoid social situations.)