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COVID Vaccines, Antigen Tests, or Antibody Tests: Which is Best for Reopening Your Organization?

With all the talk about COVID vaccines and antigen testing, it’s no surprise that confusion exists regarding the types of tests available and how they differ.

Even though COVID cases are decreasing, the threat of resurgence lingers—especially due to the UK variant which is already on our shores and doubling every 10 days. Many experts believe that we will see a marked uptick in cases towards the end of March, making the safe return to workplaces, cruises, convention centers, and stadiums a more complicated task than once thought. While sporting venues have made efforts to bring back a live audience, getting back to maximum capacity safely will take more thought, specifically regarding testing and verification of vaccination.

“Employers, arena executives, and community leaders struggle to understand which tests to use and how to deploy them effectively,” said Dr. Peter Antevy, Chief Medical Officer & COVID-19 Medical Advisor to the Salus solution. “Having a well-defined algorithm that takes into account the strength and weakness of each type of test is critical.”

As you can see, there are many options to consider when developing your reopening plan and testing strategy. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, you’re not alone, and we are happy to assist. Salus is currently assisting a variety of businesses and venues with protocol development and tailored testing strategies. We are happy to share our insight and expertise with you as you choose the right solution for your environment.

To help those responsible for the health and safety of others, Salus has put together a COVID Test Reference Guide. The table below details the three most common tests available:

The Pros and Cons of Rapid Testing and COVID Vaccines

PCR Test

Result Time

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This test detects genetic traces (the RNA) of the virus. Typically, samples are collected via throat or nasal swab. PCR tests can often report a positive result even after the patient no longer feels symptoms and is no longer contagious.1

  • Sensitive test that will detect even minor traces of the virus
  • Highest percentage of accurate results

  • Results take hours to days
  • Significantly more expensive
  • Test may show a positive result for weeks, well beyond risk of transmissibility

Antigen Test

Result Time

This test detects a protein that is part of the virus and is used to identify if the patient is currently at or near the peak of their infection. Typically, samples are collected with a nasal or throat swab.

  • Rapid results
  • Test kits are easy to use at the point of care
  • Less expensive to produce
  • Highly sensitive and specific in the symptomatic population

  • False negative rates as high as 20% have been reported

Antibody Test

Result Time

Antibody tests determine if the patient has formed specific proteins used to fight off the Sars-CoV-2 virus. It uses a fingerstick blood sample from the patient to determine whether they’ve previously had the infection.1 This test should not be considered a diagnostic test as it is not meant to determine the presence of active infection.

A new type of antibody test that looks for neutralizing antibodies is coming to market and can provide insight into the effective immune status against the virus.

  • Can provide information about prior COVID infection
  • Certain tests can detect specific antibody types (neutralizing Ab)
  • Rapid results using the bedside point of care antibody tests

  • Not a diagnostic test
  • Mild infections may not trigger the development of the virus’s antibodies3


Result Time

Messenger RNA vaccines (a.k.a. mRNA) “take advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins in order to trigger an immune response and build immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19”. mRNA vaccines differ from others because they do not use versions of the disease-causing pathogen to activate an immune response.4

Vaccines have proven to be highly effective at preventing patients from getting COVID-19, but if the patient does contract the virus, the vaccine may prevent the patient from becoming seriously ill.2

The mRNA COVID vaccines are given in 2 doses, weeks apart. Additional safety measures are still encouraged even after vaccination.2

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires the patient to be 16 or older with 21 days between doses.5

The Moderna vaccine requires the patient to be 18 or older with 28 days between doses.6

  • Highly tested and approved by FDA before disbursement
  • Decreases severity of illness if virus is contracted
  • Best option for protecting oneself from contracting the virus

  • Not yet an option for those younger than 16
  • Does not fully protect the patient from contracting the virus (5% risk still exists)
  • Can be met with some skepticism and is difficult to mandate
  • Maintaining a record of proof for large crowds can be problematic

Are you ready to find what may work best for your organization?

Schedule an assessment with our medical and technology experts to talk through your options and get a live demo of our mobile solution, Salus, which is test and vaccine agnostic. Studios, live entertainment groups, convention centers, and franchises such as the American 7 Football League are using Salus to help them get back to max capacity. Let us help you too – contact us today!

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