Can I Trust My Rapid Covid-19 Test...

Can I Trust My Rapid Covid-19 Test if It Says I’m Negative?
You’ve repeatedly tested negative on rapid tests despite having symptoms and recent exposure. Here’s what to do next.

When my 14-year-old son had a sore throat and congestion recently, I whipped out a Covid-19 rapid antigen test.

Negative. The next day I tested him again. Negative. Days later when his friend tested positive for Covid-19 and my son still had cold symptoms, we tested again. Negative again.

Could I safely assume he was Covid-19 free? It’s a question many people are asking now as Omicron subvariants circulate alongside colds, allergies and other viruses.

With Americans largely returning to prepandemic habits, and precautions such as mask mandates dropped, many people have come to rely on rapid testing to avoid spreading the virus. But with so many people having symptoms and still testing negative, it’s hard to know whether to trust the results. A positive test has ramifications well beyond validating symptoms, potentially keeping you out of work or your children out of school.

I asked testing experts about the reliability of Covid-19 rapid tests now. Here’s what they said:
Can rapid tests detect Omicron and subvariants?

Yes, but it might take a few days after your symptoms start before you have enough virus to yield a positive test.
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