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Covid Detect

Understanding how COVID-19 tests work at different stages of infection.

Brought to you by the National Institutes of Health Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative.

What was the COVID Detect study about?

  • We aimed to better understand:
    • How well different tests work to detect COVID-19 in both early and late stages of infection.
    • How COVID-19 symptoms and the potential for transmission can differ between people and over time.
  • Study design:
    • Participants received a kit to collect their own samples every day for two weeks.
    • A trained observer guided collection of the samples remotely by video or FaceTime.
    • Sample collectors picked up the samples from participants.

What did we learn from the COVID Detect study?

  • COVID-19 screening programs can boost the accuracy of rapid antigen tests by using a serial testing schedule
  • In this study, screening for COVID-19 every three days with a rapid antigen test detected infected individuals as well as a lab-based PCR test.
  • PCR tests are more effective than antigen tests at identifying COVID-19 infections in the very early stages of infection.
  • We collected and stored samples that may be used for future research about COVID-19 and related viruses.
  • Read more about these findings in the following publication:
    • Smith RL, Gibson, LL, Martinez PP, et al. Longitudinal assessment of diagnostic test performance over the course of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 224, Issue 6, 15 September 2021, Pages 976–982,
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