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Rapid Antigen Test or PCR Saliva?

We now have PCR saliva testing in Te Araroa available at Manaaki Matakāoa (now located in the Progressive Hall).

We still do Rapid Antigen Tests as well so what's the difference and which one should you choose?

Well if don't like things up your nose then the saliva test might be for you (you just spit in a tube instead) but there are a few more differences too:

1. Rapid Antigen Tests give you an answer in 15mins, PCR is 12-24hrs (you get the result texted to your phone)

2. Rapid Antigen Tests are less accurate than PCR tests. A positive RAT is pretty accurate but they can give you false negatives. PCR saliva is the gold standard on accuracy, about 99.7% accurate.

3. Rapid Antigen Tests will only detect covid 3 days after you were infected, and about 2 days after you become infectious. PCR saliva can detect covid as early as 12 hours after infection, so you can isolate before infecting anyone else.

4. Rapid Antigen Tests can be done at any time, the only thing that will invalidate it is a blood nose. PCR saliva tests require nil by mouth for 1hour before testing and that includes no smokes or vapes (you can have water 30mins before).


Well it depends on the reason you are testing:

  • Going to meet up with someone right now? Need your answer TODAY? Rapid Antigen Test will give you a good indication of whether you're safe (still some risk though).

  • If you are worried you were exposed to the virus recently, or you have symptoms but keep testing negative, or want to know if you are safe to finish isolation, and you are happy to wait, PCR saliva test will give you the most accurate result.

Either way... testing is a REALLY important way we can all keep our case numbers low. If you have any questions PM mai or call into Manaaki Matakaoa we are just across the road from the Eastern Four Square.

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