Not So Rapid Covid Test

The not so rapid Covid test kit

“You’re on your own now.”

That’s pretty much been the message recently for anyone trying to figure out if they have Covid and what, if anything, they should do to treat or recover from it.

This laissez faire attitude certainly applies to rapid self testing for Covid, which is essentially the only test you can get, unless you end up in emergency and get a professional (PCR) test instead. Even your family doctor doesn’t really want to see you in person.

So the rapid test is what most of us are stuck with. How accurate is it? Pretty good for indicating if you have Covid, but only middling if you test negative. In other words, you probably need at least two negative tests within a couple of days to be reasonably sure.

So, when I recently experienced a few ambiguous symptoms, I picked up a rapid-test box, which in exceedingly small type indicated there were five test kits inside. But the real shock was opening the box and discovering not just six bags of various gear but also a huge sheet of miniscule instructions.

Hope you brought a magnifying glass

Most of the verbiage, I’m sure, is to cover the manufacturers’ asses. But really, folks, isn’t the intention to make this test as simple and easy to understand as possible for people stressed out about if they have Covid?

Apparently not. “Insert the swab through the anterior nares in contact with nasal septum… until mild resistance is encountered at the middle turbinate.” Know what that means? Me neither, and I write for a living. How about “Gently insert the sterile swab into the nostril parallel to the palate… indicating contact with the nasopharynx?”

You have to sort through all this gear to perform the dozen steps of a “rapid” test

Good luck if English is your second language, you’re suffering brain fog from Covid and can’t concentrate, need to test without any hands-on help because, well, you might well have Covid or, like me, haven’t brushed up recently on the Latin names of nasal parts.

There is a laminated, illustrated card included in the kits, But I’d hardly call it a quick guide, as there are a dozen steps to be completed to find out, maybe, if you have Covid. And it still includes words like “nasal septum” and “middle turbinate”.

Thankfully, there are Youtube videos that more clearly, and in plain English, show the proper way to follow the numerous steps to a rapid-test result. On my Rapid Response box, there is a website ( for finding said video, though again it’s in miniscule type.

And the instructional video is NINE minutes long. Good luck keeping up if you’ve got brain fog.


2 thoughts on “Not So Rapid Covid Test

  1. Patricio

    bad and good news here.
    Bad news. My sister Dee is here in long-term care. Finally, in April, I’m allowed to visit Dee again. I’d been banished since December.
    Good news: EACH time I visit Dee’s Kiwanis facility, I’m tested and wait outside for 10 minutes for test results. It’s the Rapid test. Indeed it is rapid,,,, because a professional is testing me and she knows all the procedures.

    Couple days ago, Jane wanted to self-test. Not a big deal for us because I was kinda aware of the steps. Fiddly, but no prob. Now 80, Jane qualifies for her 2nd booster jab, couple days from now.


  2. Mary Dales

    Having used one of these, I heartily agree it is ridiculously confusing! I actually had to do it twice as the first was inconclusive. Hmm…
    Perhaps that why is why our BC COVID queen seemed reluctant to provide any tests for free, unlike other provinces. She didn’t think us capable of doing the test as rookies.They have now started to distribute them, supposedly, but they are harder to find than toilet paper in the early days of the pandemic here in Victoria.
    Surely we can find a better way to describe what should be straightforward and not an intimidating exercise.
    Thanks for highlighting this problem!



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