Coronavirus rapid tests may be less effective for new variants

May 12, 2022 – Rapid antigen tests for diagnosing COVID-19 may be less effective for new coronavirus variants, particularly the delta variant, according to a joint study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Co-authors of the study, published April 20, 2022 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, included Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, Sydney Stanley, Donald Hamel, and Ian Wolf.

Coronavirus variants have emerged throughout the pandemic, including the highly transmissible and mutated omicron variant that appeared in late 2021. Because rapid antigen tests were developed based on an early version of the virus, the researchers studied whether the tests are less effective in detecting the variants.

The researchers evaluated four common rapid antigen tests, including three designed to be used at home. While all of the tests could effectively detect…
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