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About This Project

This project aims to make comparing and buying COVID rapid test kits a little bit easier and less stressful. This could be impactful since buying RATs may become a consistent part of our lives as Hong Kong residents.

Written 27th Feb 2022 by Angus Yip

Overview

In light of the Press Conference held by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on the 22nd of February, as well as the frequency of which residents were mandated to test at a community testing center recently, it became evident that Hong Kong residents will be encouraged to test for the SARS-CoV-2 Virus consistently in the coming months.

A majority of these tests are going to be rapid antigen tests (RAT) due to their availability and convenience compared to PCR tests. RATs are being procured by the Hong Kong Government in bulk at the moment.

This market research project aims to address public concerns about the efficacy, safety, and pricing surrounding these commercially available or Government-distributed RATs, since there is an overwhelming number of such testing devices in the market and a general lack of information.

A total of 128 different rapid antigen test kits were examined in an initial list of 15 online and 205 offline stores in Hong Kong. All data will be publicly available on the website covidrat.info.

Purpose

To explain the motivation behind this project, I need to slightly break the professional tone. I am not someone who can donate HK$50 million to the Hospital Authority, nor am I in the position to provide rental relief to tenants. However, as a full-stack software developer and data analyst, I could do something to make comparing and buying COVID rapid test kits a little bit easier and less stressful. This could be impactful since buying RATs may become a consistent part of our lives as Hong Kong residents.

Objectives

This market research project aims to answer the following common consumer concerns:

  • Which government agency officially recognizes this RAT?
  • Can this RAT detect omicron or other common COVID variants?
  • Which brand or manufacturer produces the most accurate rapid antigen test?
  • Where can I buy the cheapest (or most expensive) COVID rapid test?
  • Is there a difference between nasal swab, throat swab, and saliva sampling when using an RAT?
  • Are rapid tests useful?
  • Why did my antigen test return negative when I believe that I'm infected?

Additionally, this project aims to address some common misconceptions regarding RATs, as well as uncover unethical marketing practices used by some vendors and manufacturers of these COVID testing kits.

Methodology

From 27th Feburary, 2022 to 6th March, 2022, our team went to 205 physical locations in Hong Kong and cataloged 15 online stores based in Hong Kong and found 128 different COVID rapid antigen test products. The following data are collected for each store (covert):

  • Store name
  • Store address/url
  • Store phone number
  • Store RAT catalog (bulk pricing is ignored)

The following data are collected physically as shown on the packaging for each product of rapid antigen tests:

  • Product brand
  • Product name
  • Product barcode (EAN)
  • Number of tests in the product

Our team then went online and researched the remaining information

  • Product manufacturer
  • Sampling method
  • Manufacturer-reported sensitivity and specificity (If there are multiple modes of sampling, results from nasal sampling are favored. If sensitivity/specificity cannot be found, we use results on lab websites found online: Example 1 & Example 2)

Most, if not all, of the above info could usually be found within the instruction manual, we didn't buy any product to look at the manual. Most information came from online sources. Therefore some of these info may be missing or inaccurate. Please help contribute to this project by sending clear photos of instruction manuals using this Google Form.

The following government agencies' official list of recognized covid rapid antigen tests are considered (non-antigen tests are ignored; CE and ISO certifications are ignored):

Additionally, these lists are considered for the omicron/delta testing dashboard:

A few other informational articles regarding other common RAT concerns will be written to be as objective and easy-to-digest as possible.

Deliverables

A website (https://www.covidrat.info) with the following functions/features:

  • A database dashboard with filters and search
  • A blog
  • A way for users to update store listings semi-automatically (data stream)
  • Traditional Chinese and English

Credits

Project director: Angus Yip (LinkedIn)

Primary sponsor: Media Studio Hong Kong (Homepage, Instagram)

Web design: Angus Yip

Front-end developers: Angus Yip, Joel Fulgencio

Back-end developers: Angus Yip, Allen He

Market researchers: Angus Yip, Sammi Ho, Omair Khan

Free libraries used: quaggaJS, Finsweet Attributes

Free illustration: Visual Kreasi Studio

Other Notable Databases (Hong Kong-based)

HK01 - 快速檢測包搜尋器|一按即知邊款快測包獲政府認可、列入認可名單

Howawong - 快速抗原測試搜尋器