In the heart of San Francisco is a community called the Mission District. The largely Latinx population was hit hard in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and looked to widespread testing to help slow the spread of the virus.
However, not all communities have equal access to COVID-19 testing. A recent study in the Mission District showed how portable, reliable and fast testing through our BinaxNOW COVID-19 test can enable fast detection of people who are likely to be infectious to isolate them and prevent further spread.
A partnership between UCSF and the Latino Task Force for COVID-19 called Unidos En Salud collaborated with the City and County of San Francisco, SFMTA (the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency) and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to provide COVID-19 testing to the public.
As part of the initiative, research from University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub found our BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen test provided test results in minutes, allowing people to isolate quickly and help slow the spread of the virus.
The initiative used one nasal swab for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing — considered to be the "gold standard" of COVID-19 testing due to its high sensitivity — and another for BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing to compare the two results and gauge the performance of tests on the ground, outside of professional settings.
The study ultimately found that BinaxNOW displayed:
- 93.3% sensitivity — identifying 14/15 individuals who were likely to be infectious.
- 99.9% specificity — identifying 855/856 individuals who were likely to not be infectious.
- That it can help test more people and identify more positives than could have been done otherwise.
- That its ease of use and portability allows it to be easily brought into any areas in need of testing.
Rapid antigen tests such as BinaxNOW are able to quickly identify individuals with or without symptoms or other epidemiological evidence to suspect COVID-19 infection within minutes and enable fast isolation, as opposed to waiting days for a lab result. A BinaxNOW test can be conducted anytime, anywhere (including a BART train station), making it critical in testing underserved communities where seeking lab-based testing may be more difficult.