Minnesota adding COVID-19 antigen test results to online database

The Minnesota Department of Health has begun posting results from COVID-19 antigen testing to their online database. 

This means that results from antigen testing will be posted alongside results from the other COVID-19 tests. The cumulative results are also posted. For example, on Wednesday, Minnesota reported the state has a total of 115,943 positive cases to date, with 180 of those coming from antigen tests.

According to MDH, the antigen test equipment was approved by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. In posting these cases, MDH is following the guidance of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) – the independent professional body that determines case definitions for the country. CSTE guidance subsequently affirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that someone who has a positive antigen test for COVID-19 should be considered a probable case.

Health officials said the guidance comes amid reports that the antigen tests have lower accuracy than the “gold-standard” polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test process. However, the cases will receive the same level of case investigation and follow-up as cases confirmed using the PCR test.

One advantage of antigen tests is that they generate results more quickly than the traditional PCR method. Another advantage is that they can be used by providers who do not have a full laboratory set up to do testing.

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said that while testing is crucial, residents must continue to engage in preventative measures.
“It is very important to understand that testing – even rapid testing – is not a substitute for other preventative actions,” Ehresmann said. “Tests can have false positives or negatives, and people can develop illness after they are tested. Even as we continue to expand our testing capacity in Minnesota, people still need to continue to socially distance, wear masks, avoid crowds, wash their hands and stay home if sick.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story conflated saliva testing and antigen testing. The story has been updated to clarify that they are two different types of tests.