Washington DOH prepares to distribute new rapid COVID-19 tests

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health will receive its first batch of rapid COVID-19 testing kits within a matter of days, it announced Wednesday.

In the span of five to 10 days, the DOH plans to receive 149,000 Abbott BinaxNOW antigen test kits from the federal government, with a total of 2.3 million tests coming between now and December. 

The primary difference between antigen and molecular coronavirus testing is time, according to the DOH. While antigen tests can give you results within 15 minutes, they have a higher chance of missing an active infection. 

According to the FDA, if an antigen test comes back negative, a health care provider might order a molecular test to be sure. You can read a full breakdown of testing basics here

“Because rapid antigen tests are on average less accurate than molecular tests, and haven’t been widely studied for people who don’t have symptoms, appropriate use and careful interpretation of the results will be needed, and will add complexity to the way we measure COVID-19 prevalence across the state,” it reads in a release from the DOH. 

The first batch of tests will be distributed to local health care providers, tribal clinics and critical access hospitals for patients experiencing symptoms. 

The DOH also said it will start reporting antigen test results on a weekly basis.

You can learn more here.