04/05: Rapid antigen testing for school-age children

Rapid antigen COVID-19 testing may help alleviate schools’ challenges as they try to provide a safe in-person learning environment amidst the pandemic. However, these tests have only been approved for symptomatic individuals in clinical settings. To examine the efficacy of rapid antigen tests in children in nonclinical environments, researchers at the University of Southern California investigated positive concordance between rapid antigen (BinaxNOW™) and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests. At a Los Angeles walk-up testing site, 52.6% of 226 children who tested positive on RT-PCR also tested positive on the rapid antigen test. This percentage increased up to 93.8% as the likeliness of the children being infectious rose. Although the positive concordance for asymptomatic children was not high (51%), serial testing should help address this concern. Additionally, 98.4% of 548 children who tested negative on RT-PCR also tested negative on the rapid antigen test. These results are promising, especially considering the great ability of rapid antigen testing to detect the virus in children with infectious levels of viral load.