How Accurate Are Rapid COVID-19 Tests?

The RT-PCR nasal swab is the standard COVID-19 test, offering highly accurate results within 3 business days. If you want faster answers, though, you may be interested in the rapid COVID-19 test. This test, also known as an ‘antigen’ test, returns results within 15 minutes, but how accurate are rapid COVID-19 tests?

How Accurate Are Rapid COVID-19 Tests?

Rapid COVID-19 tests are very accurate, but they are less accurate than RT-PCR testing. The accuracy of the rapid antigen test may be between 84 – 97%, but varies depending on the manufacturer.

Can a rapid COVID-19 test give a false positive or negative?

Yes, all COVID-19 tests can give false positives or false negatives. Tests with high specificity and high sensitivity are less likely to return incorrect results, which is why Drip Hydration uses RT-PCR and antigen tests with high sensitivity and specificity.

What’s The Difference Between A Rapid And Regular COVID-19 Test?

Although both the rapid and RT-PCR COVID-19 tests are typically administered as a nasal swab, the similarities between the tests ends there. What, exactly, are the differences?


  • The RT-PCR test (also known as a ‘diagnostic’, ‘PCR’, or ‘molecular’ test) is the gold standard and most accurate COVID-19 test.
  • This test works by analyzing a sample of fluids collected from your sinus cavity for the specific genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.
  • This test must be sent to a lab for processing, and results generally return within 3 business days.

Antigen (also called ‘rapid test’)

  • The rapid antigen test (also called the ‘rapid test’ or ‘rapid COVID-19 test’) is very accurate, but slightly less so than the RT-PCR test.
  • The antigen test analyses a sample of fluids collected from either your sinus cavity or your throat for proteins belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus.
  • This test can be processed immediately onsite with results generally available within 15 minutes.

Get In-Home COVID-19 Tests With Drip Hydration

If you want to get tested at home by a medical professional with a follow-up consultation explaining the results of your test, contact Drip Hydration. We bring RT-PCR, rapid antigen, and antibody tests directly to you in the comfort of your home. We use tests with high sensitivity and specificity for your peace of mind. Learn more about our service or book an appointment for a prompt in-home appointment with us today.