What does it mean if I have negative test results?

A negative test result for this test means that antigens from SARS-CoV-2 were not present in the specimen above the limit of detection. However, a negative result does not rule out COVID-19 and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions. Antigen tests are known to be less sensitive than molecular tests that detect viral nucleic acids. The amount of antigen in a sample may decrease as the duration of illness increases. In symptomatic patients, specimens collected after day 5 of illness may be more likely to be negative compared to a RT-PCR assay. Negative results should be treated as presumptive and confirmed with a molecular assay, if necessary, for patient management.

When diagnostic testing is negative, the possibility of a false negative result should be considered in the context of a patient’s recent exposures and the presence of clinical signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The possibility of a false negative result should especially be considered if the patient’s recent exposures or clinical presentation indicate that COVID-19 is likely, and diagnostic tests for other causes of illness (e.g., other respiratory illness) are negative. If COVID-19 is still suspected based on exposure history together with other clinical findings, re-testing or testing with molecular methods should be considered by healthcare providers in consultation with public health authorities. 

Risks to a patient of a false negative test result include: delayed or lack of supportive treatment, lack of monitoring of infected individuals and their household or other close contacts for symptoms resulting in increased risk of spread of COVID-19 within the community, or other unintended adverse events.

A negative antigen test should not be the sole basis used to determine if a patient can end isolation precautions. For additional recommendations regarding infection control, refer to CDC’s Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings (Interim Guidance) (see links provided in “Where can I go for updates and more information” section). 

The performance of this test was established based on the evaluation of a limited number of clinical specimens collected in between May and October 2021.The clinical performance has not been established in all circulating variants but is anticipated to be reflective of the prevalent variants in circulation at the time and location of the clinical evaluation. Performance at the time of testing may vary depending on the variants circulating, including newly emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2 and their prevalence, which change over time.

November 17, 2021 | Comments Off

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