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Rapid Antigen Tests

FDA-approved or FDA-EUA rapid antigen tests obtained through Stanford or from normal commercial sources in the U.S. can be used to follow university testing protocols that do not specifically require a Color (RT-LAMP) or RT-PCR test. Weekly surveillance testing must still be done through Color. Rapid antigen test results must be reported in Health Check

If you have tested positive for COVID, you may use a rapid antigen test to end your isolation period and speed up your return to on-site activities. Individuals who have recovered from COVID in the past 90 days should not take a Color or PCR test due to the potential for false positive results from residual shedding of inactive virus. Nucleic acid amplification tests, like Color and PCR, can detect viral remnants days to weeks and sometimes even months after a COVID infection. Test reporting does not differentiate between infectious virus and non-infectious viral fragments, which is why these tests can remain positive, intermittently, for extended periods.

If you are experiencing COVID symptoms, concerned about exposure, or returning from travel back to campus, you may also choose to take a rapid antigen test. For guidance on rapid antigen testing in particular circumstances, please refer to the Testing PositiveSymptoms, and Exposure Health Alerts pages. More information on using antigen tests is available through the State of California and CDC.

Distribution to faculty, staff, and postdocs

The university has been working to secure a supply of rapid antigen tests as another resource to keep our community healthy and safe. As many employees return to onsite work, a limited number of rapid antigen test kits will be made available to faculty, academic and non-academic staff, contingent employees, and postdocs. Details will be sent directly to business units and schools, who will then manage distribution to individuals in their group. A related distribution process will provide rapid antigen tests to students.

Faculty, staff, and postdocs who meet the criteria for earlier return to campus on day 7 following a positive test/symptom onset AND who have a critical need to return to campus prior to the end of their 10-day isolation period, may contact the Medical Support Team at employeecovidclearance@stanford.edu with questions about obtaining rapid antigen tests. See the Testing Positive Health Alerts page for more information.

Purchasing by units and individuals

The use of university funds to purchase rapid antigen tests for general distribution to employees, postdocs, or students requires approval from the VP/Dean of the unit, then University Policy Group approval. For more information, contact Environmental Health & Safety (covidtestinghelp@stanford.edu). 

The purchase of rapid antigen tests for COVID safety plans and testing protocols for visitors, events and conferences is allowable and will be a reimbursable expense.

Individuals: All residential households in the United States can order up to four free at-home antigen test kits through USPS via this link: https://special.usps.com/testkits. Tests can also be found at local pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.