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Updated 17 January 2022
Rapid antigen test results are currently carried out at home and are not accepted for any official purposes in the UAE. We’ve listed down some of the centers where you can find the home-test rapid antigen kits in the UAE, and everything else you need to know about the Rapid Antigen Test.
What is a rapid antigen test?
Antigen tests are commonly used to diagnose respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial viruses. However, in May 2020, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first antigen test to diagnose infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
While other diagnostic tests for COVID-19, known as PCR tests, look for genetic material from the virus, the antigen test looks for molecules on the virus’s surface. Rapid antigen tests are cheaper and can be run in a lab or doctor’s office in about 15 minutes. The results, however, are not as reliable as the PCR test results.
Why choose the rapid antigen test?
While the molecular PCR test is still considered the most accurate and widely used method of detecting the presence of COVID due to its high rate of accuracy, it does involve a considerable turnaround time ranging from a day to a full week.
Rapid antigen tests, on the other hand, are cheaper to administer and offer quick turnaround times of only about 15 to 30 minutes albeit with less reliable results.
How does it work?
Rapid antigen test starts with a healthcare professional swabbing the back of a person’s nose or throat. The sample is then mixed with a solution that breaks the virus open and frees specific viral proteins. The mix is added to a paper strip that contains an antibody tailored to bind to these proteins if they’re present in the solution. A positive test result can be detected either as a fluorescent glow or a dark band on the paper strip.
However, rapid antigen tests are sensitive as they need a sample to contain thousands of virus particles per microlitre to produce a positive result. So, if a person has low amounts of virus in their body, the test might give a false-negative result. Therefore, it is not a very accurate method of testing.
When is a rapid antigen test preferred?
The administering of rapid antigen tests would make more sense in situations where there’s a constant higher risk of infection, for example in hospitals or nursing homes.
Staff, visitors and patients can be tested regularly, and the repeated tests would compensate for the lower reliability rate since it is unlikely that consecutive tests with the same person would yield inaccurate results.
Can the rapid antigen test be used for official purposes?
The doctors pointed out that even though rapid antigen tests are for quick assurance they should not be used alone without a clinical visit.
According to the reports the UAE doctors state that Rapid antigen tests are not as accurate as laboratory tests because they require more of the virus in your sample to report a positive result and come with a high risk of giving a false-negative report. This means the test can show incorrect results, and one may receive a negative report, despite being infected. Henceforth, patients who test negative for RAT will further require a more sensitive test like the RT-PCR test for confirmation.
Therefore, Rapid Antigen Tests are not as suitable for use in official purposes, as is the PCR test.
Where to get the rapid antigen test in the UAE?
Rapid antigen test results are currently carried out at home and are not accepted for any official purposes in the UAE. You can find the rapid antigen home-test kits in Dubai from the following centres:
The Panbio and Flowflex Covid-19 antigen tests for Dhs40 for a single test, or Dhs150 for a family pack of four Panbio tests can be found in the Community Pharmacy in Dubai. The self-administered lateral flow test kits come with all the tools to complete an at-home test. You can opt for the free delivery online of the rapid antigen home-test kit from here.
Community Pharmacy has branches across the emirate:
Tracks Community Pharmacy. Google location
Open on Friday from 9 AM to 11 PM and 8 AM to 11 PM for the rest of the week.
Foxhill 6 – Motor City – Up Town Motor City – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Golf Community Pharmacy. Google location
Open every day from 8 AM to 10 PM.
Fairway Mall – Jumeirah Golf Estates – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Manchester Community Pharmacy. Google location
Open on Friday from 9 AM to 1 AM, and 8 AM to 1 AM for the rest of the week.
Ground floor, Manchester Tower – 1 Al Seba St – Dubai Marina – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Community Pharmacy, Wafi. Google location
Open every day from 8 AM to 12 AM.
Wafi Mall – Umm Hurair 2 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
The Panbio rapid antigen test, with both single tests and family packs, is available in some Boots stores across Dubai. The price for a single test is AED 40, whereas, it is AED 150 for a pack of four.
The rapid antigen home-test kits are available in the following branches:
Boots, Mall of Emirates. Google location
Open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 AM to 12 AM and from 10 AM to 10 PM for the rest of the week.
Mall of Emirates – Al Barsha – Al Barsha 1 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates.
Boots, Springs Souk. Google location
Open every day from 8 AM to 10 PM.
The Springs Souk – Al Afnan St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates.