With the festive season here and the highly transmittable omicron variant causing new infections, we should be vigilant in protecting ourselves and loved ones from Covid-19. Social distancing, wearing masks, vaccination and washing hands remain the best ways to fight the prominence and spread of the virus. Frequent Covid testing is also an effective practice to curb the infection rate.
Biden’s administration’s dedication to improving access to antigen tests has increased the availability of over-the-counter Covid tests. You can now quickly detect the infection from the comfort of your home. Here is what you need to know about home Covid tests, including their accuracy, how to use them, when to use them, and how to interpret the results.
How Accurate Are Over-The-Counter Covid Tests?
Generally, Covid-19 tests, whether laboratory or at-home test kits are not 100% accurate. But, some are better than others. Usually, there are two tests, molecular test and rapid antigen test. The former is more sensitive in testing Covid-19. The antigen tests are more suitable for confirming coronavirus if you are symptomatic. You are likely to get false results if you are not showing any symptoms or have a low viral load. You can remedy the situation by frequent testing at regular intervals. At-home antigen tests are easily accessible, convenient, and easy to perform.
When to Use At-Home Tests
Home tests detect Covid-19 infections early and help to prevent transmission. There are three instances when to use over-the-counter antigen tests.
First, when you suspect exposure to covid-19. Second, as a precaution when engaging in an activity with a high risk of exposure. The third circumstance to use home tests is regular-based tests to catch undetected cases. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes to get results and know if you present a risk to the public.
Generally, a home test is a quick way to verify if you are infected and can transmit the virus to others. Whether vaccinated or asymptomatic, you can still get the virus and transmit it. It is crucial to have a plan based on your test results.
What Are the Next Steps After Getting Test Results?
In case you get positive results, take fast precautions and isolate yourself from the public and family. Also, it is within character to inform who you were in contact with about the results. Go for a lab test for further confirmation to prevent a case of a false-positive result.
While getting negative results may mean that you are not sick or not shedding high SARS-CoV-2 amounts to infect others at the moment, it does not rule out chances of infection. Serial testing, which involves multiple testing on a regular basis, is the best way to prevent false-negative results.
How Much OTC Antigen Tests Cost and Where to Find Them
Although there is a shortage of at-home tests, you can find them online and in pharmacies nationwide. Currently, they cost around $7 to $12 each. However, the government is sure to increase the supply and reduce the prices of home tests to improve rapid testing and curb the rising case numbers.