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COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests: What you need to know
How a rapid antigen test (RAT) is easier, quicker and cheaper than a PCR test.
Where can I get a rapid antigen test in Canada?
Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test (20 pk) from MyZone Health
This Boson rapid antigen test is fast and very easy to use, you will get results in just 20 minutes or less. This rapid antigen test is approved by Health Canada. (Note: Rapid antigen tests may not be accepted for travel.) Regular:
$249.00 ($12.49 per test)
Sale: $199.99 for 20 tests ($10 per test) GET FREE SHIPPING WHEN YOU BUY 2+ BOXESBuy now
Antigen At-Home Service Tele-test 1 pack from Go Test Rapide
Go Test Rapide's Antigen At-Home Service Tele-test is approved by Health Canada. Once you received your test, a trained professional will give you a call to will walk you through the process. (Note: Rapid antigen tests may not be accepted for travel.)Regular: $65 for 1 test Buy now
Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test (20 pk) from Wagjag
Approved by Health Canada, these tests provide results in as little as 15-20 minutes. Tests can be done at home. No medical supervision or lab work required! (Note: Rapid antigen tests may not be accepted for travel.)Regular: $159.99 for 20 tests ($8 per test) Buy now
What is a rapid antigen test (RAT)?
An antigen test (also known as a rapid antigen test, rapid test or a lateral flow test) detects the presence of a virus by looking for certain virus-specific proteins in a swab sample.
Taking an antigen test is a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than taking a PCR tests or a serological (blood) test, both of which are also used to detect the presence of COVID. Additionally, you can take an antigen test yourself at home given that lab analysis is not required.
How do rapid antigen tests work?
First you need to get a sample from the back of your throat or nose. Typically, samples are take from your nose using a swab.
While some tests require a sample from deep inside your nasal cavity, which can be a little uncomfortable to collect, some antigen tests only require a shallow nasal sample.
At a clinic
If you’re going to a clinic, you’ll take a swab sample under the supervision of a professional or the professional will take it for you. Once the swab is taken, the results can appear in as little as 15 minutes.
If your results come back negative, then you don’t have COVID-19 and will be given a certificate to travel. Simply show your certificate at the airport, business, restaurant or anywhere else it’s required, and you’re good to go!
If you’re taking an at-home antigen test, you’ll collect your own swab sample from the tonsils, nostrils or both (whichever the instructions specify). Depending on the delivery service and level of demand, it can take up to 3 working days to receive your test in the mail.
Some providers may require that you swab your nose or throat under the supervision of a professional via Zoom or some other video chat service. You’ll be instructed on how to test your sample.
If a negative result appears, you’ll be issued with a certificate which can be used to travel or visit restricted areas.
How much does a rapid antigen test cost?
Prices vary between test providers, but an at-home rapid antigen lateral flow test could cost between $15 to $100+ per test.
The price can vary because of factors like consulting with a medical professional, getting a receipt for insurance and the number of tests included in a single kit.
Where to buy COVID home testing kits in Canada
⚠️ COVID-19 testing kits ⚠️
We're checking availability for testing kits every hour but these products sell out quickly and prices can change rapidly. Delivery times are estimated by providers but are also subject to change due to courier delays and supply chain issues.
Some sellers charge prices far above the average ("price gouging"). Be vigilant about unusually high prices, and always consider your options carefully before buying.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
How are rapid antigen tests different to PCR tests?
While an antigen test looks for the presence of virus-specific proteins, a PCR test goes even deeper and looks for the RNA (genetic material) that tells the virus to produce these proteins.
Both types of tests require a nose or throat swab sample. But PCR tests are much more precise and have a lower chance of producing false positives (inaccurate COVID diagnosis) or false negatives (inaccurately clearing someone who has COVID).
PCR tests also take longer, requiring up to 1-2 days to produce results. Whereas, antigen tests often only take up to 15 minutes.
Can I travel if I take a rapid antigen test?
Some countries and airlines will permit people with negative antigen test results to travel, but be sure to check your destination country’s specific requirements before making travel plans. You should also check your airline’s policies as well as the Government of Canada’s COVID travel notices.
Where can I get an antigen test for travel?
Check Health Canada’s list of approved COVID testing devices, but remember that many of these devices are for professional—not individual—use. Some of the companies that offer Health Canada approved COVID-19 tests include:
Should I take a rapid test? Pros and cons
- Cheaper than a PCR test
- Instructions are easy to follow
- Can order tests online and self-administered at home
- Many at-home antigen tests don’t require professional supervision or lab analysis
- Quick results
- Not accepted by every airline or country
- Less accurate than a PCR test
Other COVID-19 guides
Here’s where you can find and book a PCR test, rapid antigen test, or buy a home testing kit in Quebec for Covid-19.Read more…
Here’s where you can find and book a PCR test, rapid antigen test, or buy a home testing kit in British Columbia for Covid-19.Read more…
Here’s where you can find and book a PCR test, rapid antigen test, or buy a home testing kit in Alberta for Covid-19.Read more…
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