Third Covid screening test now in action

Rapid antigen tests are being rolled out throughout the Principality, with results obtainable within 30 minutes.
As reported in Monaco Life in late November, the Principality had acquired the rapid antigen tests and was awaiting a ministerial order to allow health professionals to administer the tests.
Now, pharmacists, doctors, nurses and medical labs in the Principality have received training to be able to offer the new screening option for Covid-19.
The rollout comes as welcome news to the National Council, which pushed for the rapid antigen tests to form part of Monaco’s screening capacity.
“Elected officials are delighted that many pharmacies, doctors and nurses in town can now perform these tests and thus meet the demand of many Monegasques and residents, relayed by the national council advisers,” it said in a statement.
The rapid antigen test involves taking a nasal swab, the same required for a PCR test. However, rather than the sample being sent to a laboratory for testing, a few drops of reagent are mixed with the sample and placed on a strip that shows one line for negative, two lines for positive, much like a home pregnancy test. A positive result means that the virus is active in the patient’s body.
Results can be obtained within 30 minutes and the test has a sensitivity rating of between 84-98%, according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Unfortunately, rapid antigen tests perform best when the person is tested in the early stages of infection when viral load is generally highest, therefore they often fail to identify people who are positive but are in the later stages of infection.
As a result, people who have Covid symptoms but receive a negative antigen test should still take a more sensitive PCR test.
But the new tests do allow health authorities to better manage cases by isolating patients quickly to prevent further spread and to begin treatment immediately.
The fee for the antigen test is around 50€ and reimbursable with Monaco health insurance.
Some people will be able to use their antigen test results to enter a country with travel restrictions, such as Italy. However, rules vary depending on the country.
The rapid antigen tests brings to three the number of Covid-screening options currently available in Monaco.
For more information, read our article ‘Guide to getting tested in Monaco’.
Photo credit: Government Communication Department / Manuel Vitali