Health officials say some rapid antigen tests may fail to detect omicron variant


AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Food and Drug Administration warns that antigen tests may fail to detect the highly transmissible omicron variant. The agency continues to allow the use of the tests, but said antigen tests are generally less sensitive and less likely to detect infections very early compared to molecular tests.

Authorities said if a person tested negative with an antigen test but is suspected of having COVID-19 – such as experiencing symptoms or having a high likelihood of infection due to exposure – follow-up molecular testing is important in determining COVID-19 infection.

With Austin-Travis County back under Stage 4 risk-based guidelines, health officials recommend masks in all situations, even for those who are fully immunized and boosted.

Austin Public Health reports 70 new hospitalizations in the past 24 hours. That’s why city and county leaders are expanding free COVID-19 testing in central Texas, including the Long Center.

Other lanes were added to reduce wait times after workers performed around 1,000 tests on Tuesday. Nomi Health said about 26% of those tests came back positive. Health officials continue to encourage PCR tests for those who can get them.

The APH said the reliability of self-administered tests can be affected by the person administering the test because they simply don’t want to go deep enough into the nasopharyngeal region to collect an adequate sample.

Ana Lopez told KXAN she tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving varying results from home tests.

“I am very paranoid. So I tested again and had a home test on the 22nd, and it came back positive, so I’ve been isolating myself ever since, ”Lopez said.

Jay Kahlon, who was supposed to spend the family vacation in Austin, said he got a similar result in an antigen test and a PCR test.

“I did a quick test, which was negative, then I went to the emergency room the next day, it was December 18, and at that point I could barely speak,” he said. “My lips were a little swollen, then I also had a very sore throat and an upset stomach.”

He said the doctor had done a PCR test and the results were positive.

The APH said the gold standard for detecting COVID-19 continues to be the PCR test. If a person has symptoms such as COVID-19, they should isolate themselves from others and wear a mask until tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that if a person tests negative on day 5 after symptoms appear, they should continue to wear a mask for five days when in close proximity to other people.


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