Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Testing

Rapid antigen tests, often abbreviated ‘RAT’, are generally taken with a front of nose swab and detect the presence of specific proteins on the outer portion of the virus, such as the spike protein.

This is different from the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test currently widely used in New Zealand which detects genetic material called RNA. Samples used for RT-PCR tests are collected with nasopharyngeal swabs, a combination oral and nasal swab (oropharyngeal anterior nares), or saliva.

RATs require a higher quantity of the virus to be present in the sample than other COVID‑19 testing methods.  As a result, RATs are less sensitive at detecting cases, especially in asymptomatic people or people who are early in their infectious period. A positive result in any RAT requires a confirmation test by RT-PCR swab undertaken by a healthcare professional.

The advantage of RATs is that they give a result quickly (often in less than 15 minutes), which assists with rapid risk assessment and reduces the amount of time a positive individual is active in the community. They are also useful for screening, which is a one-off test such as is required for unvaccinated people aged over 12 years to leave Auckland from 15 December 2021 to 17 January 2022. RATs can be conducted in a laboratory, a health setting, or in the community e.g., at home.

A point of care RAT is one that is performed at or near the place where a specimen is collected and interpreted, ideally under the supervision of a healthcare professional, for example at urgent care clinics, pharmacies and aged residential care facilities.


Ranolf Pharmacy Shop

Ranolf Pharmacy is an independent Pharmacy providing friendly and professional advice for you and your family's health and wellbeing. We're a busy pharmacy attached to Ranolf Medical Centre. As well as dispensing prescriptions we also provide a range of health checks and consultations, including INR testing and emergency contraception. We love to support NZ made products and we have an extensive