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Antigen Tests May be Less Sensitive to Omicron Variant

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that quick Antigen tests people take at home may be less sensitive to picking up the omicron variant of the coronavirus, but health officials said they’re still a useful tool.The FDA said its recent studies with the National Institutes of Health showed that although the Antigen tests detected the omicron variant, they did so with less sensitivity. The test can spot the infection less often.

The agency said it could not share any information on how much less sensitive any of the tests might be to the omicron variant, but it is working to get more details. The Studies are underway to confirm the reason for the apparent decreased sensitivity. Once that is known, adjustments to existing tests can be undertaken by each developer with support from the FDA, if appropriate.

Antigen tests are generally known to be less sensitive than PCR tests done in labs, but they are fast, more affordable and easy to perform at home. The FDA suggests that people should continue to use these tests and make sure they follow the instructions closely.

If someone tests negative with an Antigen test but still suspects that they may have COVID-19 because they have symptoms or have been exposed to the coronavirus, they should follow up with a PCR test. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, encouraged people to continue to use rapid COVID-19 tests.Fauci also added that the tests are still worthwhile. Don’t let anybody think that the FDA was saying that tests are no longer good. They say they’re less sensitive now. They never were 100% sensitive.

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