The Department of Public Health and Social Services will distribute about 30,000 antigen tests for COVID-19, spokeswoman Janela Carrera said.
Guam received about 30,000 BinaxNow antigen tests after validation and quality control runs, she said. The plan is to distribute the tests to hospitals and primary care clinics for urgent care and symptomatic patients, she said.
It’s unclear when the tests will be distributed; Public Health continues to work on its distribution plan, she added.
The BinaxNow tests can provide patients with results within minutes and according to information provided by the Food and Drug Administration, if a person is showing symptoms, the tests are 97.1% accurate in determining if a person is positive for the coronavirus, and 98.5% accurate in determining if they are negative.
It is not yet known how accurate the tests are when used on people without symptoms.
Most of the testing done on Guam is by PCR tests, which detect the virus’s genetic material and can detect low levels of the virus. But the tests have to be processed by labs that need trained workers and sufficient chemical supplies.
And if there are a large number of samples that need to be tested, it could take days before a person gets results back.
The antigen tests, which detect proteins, are often less sensitive than PCR tests. But some argue antigen tests, which can produce results in minutes and are less expensive, can identify when a person is infectious and most likely to pass the virus to others.
The BinaxNow tests look like credit cards and don’t require any special equipment to get the results.
The test is similar to a pregnancy test — it will show one line for a negative result and two lines for a positive result. A nasal swab with samples collected from a patient is placed into the card and after 15 minutes results will show on the card.
The test detects the presence of protein antigens from SARS-CoV-2 in individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider who are within the first seven days of symptom onset.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized diagnostic test doesn’;t require any instrumentation to test the samples and instead determines a COVID-19 negative or positive result, the FDA stated.
According to Abbott, the company that made the test, the card can be used as the first line of defense to identify people who are currently infected and who should isolate themselves to help prevent the spread of the disease.