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All people have the right to know their COVID-19 status and to be able to use that information to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Rapid antigen tests can be used at home or in informal settings to reliably and quickly detect cases of COVID-19, to guide decisions on interventions such as self-isolation, contact tracing, and antiviral treatment. Although rapid testing is less sensitive than testing by PCR, this method is well-suited for detecting mild symptomatic cases at moments when there is an opportunity to take action to stop onward transmission (through isolation or precautions) or lower the risk of a mild case of COVID-19 progressing to severe disease (through treatment). As oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 become more available, rapid testing is key to unlocking access to treatments such as nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid).

This factsheet developed by IMPAACT4COVID19 and Treatment Action Group lays out all you need to know about rapid antigen tests, how to use them, and how to advocate for broader access to these critical tools for reducing risk throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This publication is the final of a three-part series on Test-and-Treat interventions for COVID-19, and follows other editions on Paxlovid and Molnupiravir.


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