Two years into this pandemic, you may be all too familiar with the anxiety of waiting for test results to learn if you can safely socialize with friends and family. Rapid testing gives you results in minutes, not days.
Rapid molecular testing is available for influenza A and B (the virus that causes the flu), SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), respiratory syncytial virus (the virus that causes RSV), and group A streptococcus pyogenes (the type of bacteria that causes strep throat). Whether the test is performed at a pharmacy, clinic, or doctor’s office, rapid testing reveals the cause behind your symptoms—so your clinician can can quickly identify the treatment that’s right for you.
Many respiratory illnesses have different treatments but similar symptoms. Testing can help tell the story behind the symptoms.
Learn how to find a rapid molecular test and what to ask for. We’ll send you the information you need.
When you don’t feel well, it’s easy to describe your symptoms. What’s much harder is knowing the reason you feel sick in the first place. That’s because a sore throat, cough, and runny or stuffy nose could describe multiple infections, including the common cold, the flu, COVID-19, RSV, or strep throat. And the way you treat them can differ greatly.
A rapid flu test enables you to get the right treatment sooner and can help prevent the spread of the flu to others7,8
Taking a rapid COVID-19 test can provide you confidence to go to work, attend school, and be around friends and family11,12
A rapid respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) test may provide you confidence in knowing the symptoms are caused by a virus that will usually run its course3,8
A rapid molecular strep test enables immediate prescription of antibiotics, allowing for faster treatment.
There are many different ways to test for the flu, COVID-19, RSV, and strep throat. Two of the most convenient tests are rapid molecular tests and antigen tests. These tests are prescribed by a healthcare provider and can be performed at a clinic near you, including certain doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, and pharmacies, with results in as little as 15 minutes.8,23-28
Rapid molecular tests look for genetic material from the virus or bacteria that causes infection and are highly accurate.28 For example, a rapid molecular test looks for RNA from viruses like the flu, RSV or COVID-19, and DNA from bacteria like strep throat.29,30
Rapid antigen tests detect active infection by identifying a protein from the virus or bacteria that causes that infection. These tests can be less sensitive when compared to a molecular test, however they are good predictors of an active infection. For some illnesses (for example COVID-19), these tests may be useful for routine or repeat testing.31,32
Rapid molecular testing provides accurate results and can be performed at a nearby clinic while you wait.26-28
See if there is a clinic listed near you that offers rapid molecular tests for the flu, COVID-19, RSV or strep throat
Use the test locator to see if
there is a clinic listed near you
The clinic may offer different types
of tests, so it's important to
ask for a rapid molecular test.
Your clinician will use a
shallow swab inside your
nose or throat26-28,33
A rapid molecular test looks for
genetic material of the virus
or bacteria and will tell you if
you have the infection.29
Review results with your clinician and decide on next steps
The results are highly accurate and available in a matter of minutes.
This program will teach you about rapid tests and how they can quickly identify illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, RSV, and strep throat. Rapid testing can help you get treated earlier and get well sooner.
* Because rapid molecular tests for COVID-19 are approved under Emergency Use Authorization, comparative accuracy claims cannot be made.
1. “Flu Symptoms & Complications.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed September 21, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm.
2. “About Flu.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed November 18, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about.
3. “Symptoms and Care.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed September 24, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/symptoms.html.
4. “Strep Throat: All You Need to Know.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed January 12, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/strep-throat.html.
5. “Symptoms of COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated February 22, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
6. “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed November 29, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html.
7. Uyeki, Timothy M., et al. “Clinical Practice Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America: 2018 Update on Diagnosis, Treatment, Chemoprophylaxis, and Institutional Outbreak Management of Seasonal Influenza.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 68, no. 6 (March 15, 2019): e1-e47. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciy866.
8. Azar, Marwan M., Marie L. Landry. “Detection of Influenza A and B Viruses and Respiratory Syncytial Virus by Use of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA)-Waived Point-of-Care Assays: A Paradigm Shift to Molecular Tests.” Journal of Clinical Microbiology 56, no. 7 (July 2018): e00367-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/JCM.00367-18.
9. “Flu Season.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed September 28, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm.
10. “What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed August 31, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/treatment/whatyoushould.htm.
11. “Need a COVID-19 Test?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed January 14, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/images/symptoms-testing/COVID-Testing-Flowchart_v2_Updated.jpg.
12. “How to Protect Yourself & Others.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated January 20, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.
13. “The Possibility of COVID-19 after Vaccination: Breakthrough Infections.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated December 17, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/why-measure-effectiveness/breakthrough-cases.html.
14. “The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel's Statement on Potential Drug-Drug Interactions Between Ritonavir-Boosted Nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) and Concomitant Medications.” National Institutes of Health (NIH). Updated December 30, 2021. https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/statement-on-paxlovid-drug-drug-interactions.
15. “Remdesivir.” National Institutes of Health (NIH). Updated December 16, 2021. https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/antiviral-therapy/remdesivir.
16. Moriyama, Miyu, Walter J. Hugentobler, Akiko Iwasaki. “Seasonality of Respiratory Viral Infections.” Annual Review of Virology 7 (September 2020): 83-101. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-virology-012420-022445.
17. “RSV Transmission.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html.
18. “Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html.
19. “RSV in Older Adults and Adults With Chronic Medical Conditions.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/high-risk/older-adults.html.
20. “RSV in Infants and Young Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last reviewed December 18, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/high-risk/infants-young-children.html.
21. Schulman, Stanford T., et al. “Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis: 2012 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 55, no. 10 (November 15, 2012): e86-102. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cis629.
22. Parker, Kyle G., et al. “Comparison of 3 Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests and a Rapid Antigen Test With Culture for the Detection of Group A Streptococci from Throat Swabs.” Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine 4, no. 2 (September 1, 2019): 164-169. https://doi.org/10.1373/jalm.2018.028696.
23. Merckx, Joanna, et al. “Diagnostic Accuracy of Novel and Traditional Rapid Tests for Influenza Infection Compared With Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Annals of Internal Medicine 167, no. 6 (September 19, 2017): 394-409. https://doi.org/10.7326/M17-0848.
24. Franck, Kristina T., et al. “Evaluation of Immuview RSV Antigen Test (SSI Siagnostica) and BinaxNOW RSV Card (Alere) for Rapid Detection of Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Retrospectively and Prospectively Collected Respiratory Samples.” Journal of Medical Virology 92, no. 12 (December 2020): 2992-2998. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.26369.
25. Cohen, Jérémie F., et al. “Rapid Antigen Detection Test for Group A Streptococcus in Children With Pharyngitis (Review).” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, no. 7, article no. CD010502, (2016). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010502.pub2.
26. “ID Now Influenza A & B 2 Quick Reference Instructions.” Abbott, 2020.
27. “ID Now RSV Quick Reference Instructions.” Abbott, 2020.
28. “ID Now Strep A 2 Quick Reference Instructions.” Abbott, 2020.
29. Hagen, Ashley. “COVID-19 Testing FAQs.” American Society for Microbiology. August 19, 2021. https://asm.org/Articles/2020/April/COVID-19-Testing-FAQs.
30. “Alere i Strep A 2 Package Insert.” Alere, 2018.
31. Shuren, Jeffrey E. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Steps to Streamline Path for COVID-19 Screening Tools, Provides Information to Help Groups Establishing Testing Programs.” Food and Drug Administration. March 16, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-takes-steps-streamline-path-covid-19-screening-tools-provides.
32. Pfeil, Johannes, et al. “Screening for Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Isolation Strategies in Children Hospitalized with Acute Respiratory Tract Infection.” Medicine 93, no. 25 (November 2014):e144. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000000144.
33. “ID Now COVID-19 Product Insert.” Abbott, 2020.
Based on your current location, the content on this page may not be relevant for your country.