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Which test is best? Frequent versus infrequent testing for the Omicron variant of COVID-19

A study led by Osaka University recently found that the sensitivity of the rapid antigen test (RATs) for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 compared with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was 0.63 and this value was not affected by the duration from the onset of symptoms to testing. This finding suggested the possibility that as with previous variants, frequent testing using RATs for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 still outperformed infrequent testing using PCR tests. This is despite RATs requiring a larger amount of virus to be present to return a correct positive result (i.e., lower sensitivity) compared with PCR tests. However, RATs are also cheaper and produce results quickly.

Prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant, frequent testing using RATs was known to be a better strategy than infrequent testing using PCR tests. RATs detect infection early, which allows for swift isolation of individuals who are infected, thus preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Published in: BMJ Open Sensitivity of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 during the Omicron variant outbreak among players and staff members of the Japan Professional Football League and clubs: A retrospective observational study.

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