SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will now be reporting positive and negative results from antigen tests due to the regularly increasing volume of rapid-result tests across the state.
Antigen testing is a new and faster way of diagnosing COVID-19 than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test by detecting proteins instead of genetic material.
This makes it faster than PCR testing that is mainly used for detecting DNA whereas viruses contain RNA.
The tests perform best during the early stages of infection when viral load is at its highest or for known exposures to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
On August 16, the CDC issued interim guidance for antigen testing, including regulatory requirements, collection and handling of specimens, and evaluation of results.
The early stages resulted in “inconclusive” tests due to the test not being less sensitive than PCR testing.
Now that more is known about antigen tests, results will be included in the state’s total case numbers along with those from PCR testing. This will have a minimal change to Iowa’s positivity rate.
Currently, in Iowa, antigen testing is being used in long-term care facilities, health care clinics, pharmacies, and other testing providers.
IDPH will continue to adjust its reporting to include new technologies, test types, and information as the COVID-19 response evolves.