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Antigen COVID Tests

NCDHD discuss the free at-home COVID tests from NCDHD also describe Antigen rapid tests and when the best time to utilize them is.

Welcome to COVID CHAT! I’m Allison, and today I will be discussing rapid COVID Antigen tests. Antigen tests can help us move towards “learning to live” with COVID by providing a tool to detect whether a stuffy nose we are experiencing is a current COVID infection or a regular allergy response. Right now, all households in the United States can receive 4 free COVID home tests. While they take 7-12 days to reach your household after ordering them, it is a great idea to have these tools at home for when you need them. To get yours, visit

In a recent San Francisco study, antigen tests were 89.8% sensitive at detecting COVID positive cases in asymptomatic individuals and 97.6% sensitive for symptomatic individuals. So, antigen tests are very accurate at detecting COVID positive cases, but when is the best time to get an antigen test? We need to be careful about using rapid antigen tests in the first few days of exposure or symptoms. Studies show that false negatives are EXTREMELY common in the first 2-3 days after experiencing symptoms. To get the most out of your rapid test, wait at least 48 hours after symptoms begin and at least 5 days after a COVID positive exposure. A positive antigen test is VERY reliable, but there are many false negative antigen test results, especially in the first few days after symptom onset.

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