My surprisingly pleasant experience with the COVID-19 self-test kits

Not only were the COVID-19 self-test kits efficient and simple to use, there was no discomfort too.

Jeevana Kalaithasan

Obsessed with chocolate, TikTok and baking.

Published: 22 July 2021, 6:22 PM

As someone who hasn’t taken a swab test before (thankfully), the idea of undergoing one feels scary. 

I’ve read and seen TikToks on the experience of those who underwent swab tests and it feels a little disturbing. The idea of having a swab stick stuck deep into my nostril feels uncomfortable enough and having heard all about the discomfort, even though it’s brief, put me off. 

It was very welcoming when the antigen rapid test (ART) self-test kits were introduced into the markets, especially since it was purported to be a quick and easy process. 

Still, I had a very low expectation of the self-test kits, until I tried it out on my own. The process was surprisingly pleasant. 

Here are my experiences with two test kits: 

Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test

The Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test kit can be bought at pharmacies like Unity, Guardian and Watsons. I got my kit at Guardian for $12.80. 


The COVID-19 self-test kits can only be sold to you by a pharmacist. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


The test kit came with manuals in three languages – English, French and Dutch – which contained step-by-step instructions on how to test yourself along with a QR code that users could scan to get the digital version of the instruction manual. 

The digital version also had an animated instructional video on how to do the test, making it clear and easy to follow. 


The digital manual website also had an FAQ section which was helpful. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


Apart from the instructional manuals, the test kit came with five other items. The contents were conveniently packaged and were easy to use.


Items that came in the kit includes a test device, a tube, a buffer bottle with the solution, a nasal swab and a ziplock bag. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


The ziplock bag that came with the kit was to be used to contain the used materials for disposal, making it very hygienic and convenient. 


The rapid test device, tube and buffer bottle. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


While I had to insert the swab up my nostrils, it was only about 2cm in. I wouldn’t say there was no discomfort, but it was bearable to say the least. I definitely wasn’t close to tearing at all. 

After swabbing, I had to dip the swab into the solution and let it sit in it for about a minute, remove the swab and drip five drops of the solution from the buffer bottle into the testing device. 

I found it a little difficult to squeeze out the solution from the buffer bottle and it took a little effort. 

The whole testing process took about three minutes and I had my negative test results in about 20 minutes for the test kit to show my negative results – way faster than about a day’s wait for the swab test results, I might add. 


Lines at both the “C” and “T” marks indicate the presence of COVID-19 while a single line at only the “C” mark indicates that there is no COVID-19 virus present. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN

Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test

The Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test can also be purchased at pharmacies like unity, Guardian and Watsons. I got my kit at Guardian for $20.80. 

Unlike the Abbott kit, the QuickVue kit comes in boxes of two tests each. 


There are two options available with this kit, the box of 2 tests and a box of 25 tests. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


Similar to the Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 ART self test kit, the QuickVue kit came with instructions, but English and Spanish. They had step-by-step instructions and a QR code to scan for the digital version. 

While the digital manual contained a video too, the QuickVue video was not animated. 


In general, the instructions on both the physical manual and the instructional video were clear and easy to follow. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


The QuickVue kit only came with only three items, excluding the manuals –  a nasal swab, a test strip and a pre-filled tube. Additionally, the test kit also came with an informational fact sheet that contained information on COVID-19 and the meaning of a positive and negative test result.

Having just three items for testing meant it wasn’t as complicated and easier to follow. It helped that the instructions were straightforward too. 

The testing method was similar as well, with the only difference that this test required a test strip to be inserted into the pre-filled tube, compared to squeezing the solution for the Abbott test kit.


A positive result is determined when both the blue and pink line is present, however, this is a negative result as the pink line is missing. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/ JEEVANA KALAITHASAN


The QuickVue test kit had fewer steps compared to the Abbot test kit and the testing process took a much shorter time. The testing took about two minutes and I had the results in about 10 minutes. 

I did feel that the QuickVue test was much more comfortable than the Abbott test, as the swab had to be inserted about 0.5cdm into my nostrils instead. It was ticklish, sure, but not uncomfortable at all. 

Personally, I believe that the self test kits, which are intended for those who needs to be tested frequently such as essential workers, are a great alternative to those who might be potentially exposed to the virus – especially if they are worried over the discomfort they might feel during the swab test. 

There are no age restrictions on buying the self test kits and at just slightly over $20 per test kit, it’s pretty affordable too. 

Do take note that according to the Ministry of Health guidelines, ART self-testing should not be performed if you have had nosebleed in the past 24 hours, nasal surgery in the past four weeks or facial surgery in the last eight weeks.

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