Performance of SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test compared with real-time RT-PCR in asymptomatic individuals

Int J Infect Dis. 2021 Jun;107:201-204. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.04.087. Epub 2021 May 1.


Screening, testing and contact tracing plays a pivotal role in control of the COVID-19 pandemic. To enable this it is necessary to increase the testing capacity. This study compared a SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test (RAT) and RT-PCR in 842 asymptomatic individuals from Tarapacá, Chile. A sensitivity of 69.86%, specificity of 99.61%, PPV of 94.44% and NPP of 97.22% with Ct values (Ct > 27) that were significantly higher among individuals with false-negative RAT were reported. These results support the fact that RAT might have a significant impact on the identification of asymptomatic carriers in areas that lack suitable laboratories to perform SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR diagnostics, or the results take more than 24-48 h, as well as zones with high traffic of individuals such as border/customs, airports, interregional bus, train stations or in any mass testing campaign requiring rapid results.

Keywords: Asymptomatic; RAT; RT-PCR; Rapid antigen test; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asymptomatic Infections*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing / methods*
  • COVID-19 Serological Testing / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Young Adult