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The public can buy the test kits at Guardian, Unity, and Watsons from next Wednesday onwards, with a limit of 10 kits per person. — iStock pic via TODAY
The public can buy the test kits at Guardian, Unity, and Watsons from next Wednesday onwards, with a limit of 10 kits per person. — iStock pic via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, June 10 — Four brands of Covid-19 self-test kits that are antigen rapid tests will go on sale at retail pharmacies from next Wednesday (June 16), so that the general public may do nasal swab tests themselves at home.

The four self-test kits, which have been granted interim authorisation from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), are:

● Abbott PanBio Covid-19 Antigen Self-test

● QuickVue At-Home OTC Covid-19 Test

● SD Biosensor Sars-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Nasal

● SD Biosensor Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Home Test

These kits will be sold at Guardian and Unity pharmacies, and Watsons outlets. They will be made available at more shops progressively.

To ensure that there are enough supplies for all, sales will be initially limited to 10 kits a person, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement today.

ARTs detect the viral proteins in the nasal swab samples of infected individuals and usually work best in the early stages of infection.

Speaking at a press conference by the Government’s Covid-19 task force today, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the director of medical services at MOH, said that the fast and easy-to-use tests will allow the Government to detect infections more quickly, particularly among people who do not have acute respiratory infection or are concerned that they have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Testing also provides us with the assurance that our homes, retail places and workplaces are safe,” he added.

HSA said that as part of its interim authorisation, developers of these kits are required to collect the relevant accuracy and safety data and monitor the use of their tests.

The authority also requires additional data from ongoing clinical studies to be submitted even after approval is granted so that it can ensure the continued safety and efficacy of these tests being used by consumers.

How to use the self-test kits

Explaining how the kits should be used, HSA said that users of the ART self-test kits should collect their nasal sample using the swab provided in the kit. They should then prepare their nasal sample with the buffer and tube provided.

Once the sample is ready, HSA said that users should perform the Covid-19 test using the test device and read the results. The agency urged users to follow the instructions included in the test kits closely to get valid results.

Those who have a positive result on the self-test kit should immediately approach a Swab and Send Home Public Health Preparedness Clinic for a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, MOH said.

They will then have to self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result.

Those who test negative on their self-test kits should continue to stay vigilant and adhere to prevailing safety regulations, MOH added.

People who have symptoms of an acute respiratory infection should continue to visit a doctor for a full diagnosis and PCR test instead of relying on the antigen rapid test self-test kit.

Higher chance of false negativity in ARTs

In its press release, HSA said that ARTs can achieve a sensitivity of about 80 per cent for cases with higher viral loads. Sensitivity refers to the test’s ability to correctly detect Covid-19 infection in individuals.

These tests also have the ability to correctly identify individuals without a Covid-19 infection within a specificity range of 97 to 100 per cent,

With a lower sensitivity than PCR tests, ARTs have a higher chance of false negative results, said HSA.

“Incorrect sample preparation or testing process when using the test, or a low viral protein level in the user’s nasal sample, could also result in a false negative result,” said the authority, urging all those who exhibit acute respiratory infection symptoms to consult a doctor. — TODAY

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