Get to know rapid tests before they arrive in the mail

January 18, 2022

Get to know rapid tests before they arrive in the mail

The federal government on Tuesday activated a webpage where Americans can order free at-home COVID-19 tests. The program promises to send four rapid antigen tests to any U.S. household starting later this month.

With heavy demand stretching most testing resources thin, UW Medicine pathologist Dr. Geoff Baird says rapid antigen tests are a good go-to if you are feeling sick with symptoms of COVID-19.

“The clinical performance of an antigen rapid test is good enough such that you will get a pretty good result, a pretty reliable result,” said Baird, who is the chair of laboratory medicine and pathology.

“I think it is a great thing for someone to have either to buy at the drugstore or to have a stash of these things at home, if they have them to access – if they get the sniffles, or a fever, or a cough, or short of breath – to get a really quick idea of what this could be,” Baird said.

In previously published downloadable video assets, Baird explains how rapid antigen tests identify COVID-19 and how they differ from lab-rendered PCR (polymerase-chain reaction) tests.

Getty Images

Terms of appropriate usage of file downloads

  • News reporters and news organizations may freely republish and distribute videos, still images and audio files produced by UW Medicine and the University of Washington Health Sciences schools (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Social Work).
  • Works must be attributed/credited appropriately (for example, “UW Medicine” or “University of Washington School of Pharmacy” – as denoted in the file) and must not be used for commercial purposes.
  • These visual and audio files may not be used to exploit or misrepresent UW Medicine or the University of Washington.
  • UW Medicine often licenses still images from Thinkstock but cannot grant republishing rights. You may not republish single image files credited to Thinkstock.
  • Logos of UW Medicine and University of Washington Health Sciences schools may not be republished without explicit permission. Contact us by phone or email: 206.543.3620 or