COVID-19 rapid test: first assessment in 15 minutes using a new antigen test

COVID-19 rapid test: first assessment in 15 minutes using a new antigen test

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What can the new Corona Virus Rapid Test do?

Similar to a pregnancy test, a new COVID-19 antigen test provides a first indication of an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 within only 15 minutes. This means that an initial assessment of how infectious a person is at the time of the test can be made quickly. The test could become an important tool for healthcare workers to properly deal with potential COVID-19 sufferers to better protect themselves and others from further transmission.

Facilities that come into contact with COVID-19 sufferers often lack the time and material to carry out demanding and time-consuming tests. When first contacting a patient with a potential COVID-19 disease, it is unclear how contagious the individual is. A new antigen test can give an initial assessment of this within 15 minutes. The test was recently presented in the renowned journal "Frontiers in Medicine".

SARS-CoV-2 detection in just 15 minutes

One of the most important ways to stop the spread of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is to provide quick, reliable, and inexpensive on-site diagnostic tests. European scientists have now developed a single-use antigen test that can provide first evidence of COVID-19 infection on the front line in just 15 minutes.

No quick diagnosis available for COVID-19

According to Johns Hopkins University, almost four million infections and around 270,000 deaths worldwide can now be attributed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (as of May 8, 2020). The real figure will be significantly higher. A major problem in the pandemic is still the diagnosis of the novel pathogen. The tests currently available are complex and can take several days to evaluate.

"Detection of viral infections in patients visiting primary care centers would enable medical personnel to quickly identify new outbreaks and establish quarantine measures for patients with high viral thrust and / or suspected cases to limit the spread of the epidemic," they write Authors of the current study.

How does an antigen test work?

The antigen test looks for proteins on the surface of the virus. The procedure is reminiscent of a pregnancy test. A nasopharyngeal smear is carried out on the person to be tested. The body fluid thus obtained is brought into contact with the test strip. Antibodies on the test strip react to the virus when it is present.

Coris BioConcept used findings from previous virological research on SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003, to produce the new test. The two viruses are very similar, so the test cannot differentiate between SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2.

Advantages and disadvantages of the antigen test

The researchers showed on samples from more than 300 people affected by COVID-19 that the test works. However, it cannot guarantee absolute security. In 57.6 percent of all cases, the test correctly indicated that a person was infected with SARS-CoV-2. The more infectious a person was, the sooner the test worked. If a person was not infected with SARS-CoV-2, this was correctly recognized in 99.5 percent of the cases.

In other words, the test was able to detect COVID-19 infection in about six out of ten people. In those with a higher viral load, around seven out of ten infections could be identified.

Cannot be used as a stand-alone test

Due to the high degree of inaccuracy, the antigen test cannot be used as an independent test, but must be used as part of a more comprehensive test strategy. Nevertheless, the test is superior to all other tests in terms of speed, cost and implementation and offers quick decision-making aid. In particular, countries with low and middle incomes where only a few laboratories are available could benefit from the test, the researchers sum up. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Pascal Mertens, Nathalie De Vos, Delphine Martiny, u.a .: Development and potential usefulness of the COVID-19 Ag Respi-Strip® diagnostic assay in a pandemic context; in: Frontiers, 2020,
  • Frontiers Science News: New antigen test for detecting COVID-19 could help triage patients during the pandemic (published: May 8th, 2020),

Video: FDA approves first antigen test to detect the coronavirus that provides results in minutes (June 2022).


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