COVID Antigen Rapid Home Test
12/22/2021 > 01/15/2022
- There are tests you can sample at home and send to a lab, which can be the more accurate PCR test.
- This document focuses on rapid at-home antigen tests which have lower sensitivity but good specificity.
- Timing is important with at-home rapid testing. Repeating tests daily improves accuracy. They work best when the viral load in the nose is highest.
- Accuracy of tests depend on sensitivity, specificity, product handling, and timing of the infection.
- Tests can have false positives or false negatives. Low sensitivity can produce false negatives. Higher sensitivity and lower specificity can produce false positives.
- Positive tests should be followed up with a PCR confirmation test and reported to public health officials. Always consult your primary physician.
- Positive tests with no symptoms require 5 days of quarantine per CDC. (see below)
- This document is for information only, not medical advice.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests
Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests.
The tests will be completely free—there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number.
Ordering begins January 19.
How to get insurance to pay for at-home COVID tests, according to the White House
NPR / January 10, 20226:24 PM ET
The CDC says that people who test positive for COVID-19 only need to isolate themselves for 5 days if they don't show symptoms. This cuts in half the earlier recommendation of 10 days of isolation.
HOME PRODUCTS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test, 2 Tests per Pack,FDA EUA Authorized OTC at-Home Self Test,
Results in 15 Minutes with Non-invasive Nasal Swab, Easy to Use & No Discomfort
$17.98 ($8.99 / Count) Usually ships within 3 to 4 days.
On/Go at-Home COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Self-Test, Test Results in 10 Minutes, FDA Authorized - 2 Tests
$24.49 ($12.25 / Item) Usually ships within 9 days.
BD Veritor at-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit, Rapid Digital Results in 15 Minutes to Compatible iPhone and Samsung or Google Smartphone,
No Human Interpretation Needed, Includes 2 Tests
$33.93 ($16.97 / Item) Delivery 6 to 18 days
HOME PRODUCTS AVAILABLE OVER THE COUNTER (OTC)
- Walgreens: QuickVue
Rapid At-Home COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit 2.0ea
$23.99 ($12 / item)https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/quickvue-rapid-at-home-covid-19-antigen-test-kit/ID=300416410-product12/22/2021CVS has various products: Flowflex, QuickVue, Ellume, BinaxNOW12/22/2021Rite Aid has BinaxNOW
HOME PRODUCT INFORMATION
What You Should Know Before Taking A Rapid COVID Test
December 23, 2021
CDC: USING YOUR SELF-TEST KIT | COVID-19
A COVID-19 self-test is a rapid test that you can do at home and get results within 15-30 minutes.
Self-tests are also known as home tests, self-collected tests, or antigen tests. You can purchase self-tests in stores or pharmacies and online. What to do with a positive or negative test.
Watch the two short CDC videos on how to use and interpret self-tests.
KIRO: Take home test now available at Safeway and Albertsons
October 02, 2020 / Text & Video
How Accurate Are At-Home Covid Tests? Here’s a Quick Guide (article text copied below)
The tests are more sensitive in people with symptoms than without and are most sensitive during the first week of symptoms, studies have found.
A handful of rapid antigen tests are available without a prescription, including the Abbott BinaxNOW, the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test and the Quidel QuickVue At-Home Covid-19 Test.
Using the tests repeatedly can compensate for their lower sensitivity.
Evaluation of Abbott BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Test for SARS-CoV-2 Infection at Two Community-Based Testing Sites — Pima County, Arizona, November 3–17, 2020
High specificity and low sensitivity for asymptomatic patients.
Ellume Recalls COVID-19 Home Test for Potential False Positive SARS-CoV-2 Test Results
Potential for False Positive Results with Certain Lots of Ellume COVID-19 Home Tests Due to a Manufacturing Issue: FDA Safety Communication
Quidel QuickVue At-Home Covid-19 Test
Longitudinal Assessment of Diagnostic Test Performance Over the Course of Acute SARS-CoV-2 Infection
All tests showed >98% sensitivity for identifying infected individuals if used at least every 3 days.
Daily screening using antigen tests can achieve approximately 90% sensitivity for identifying infected individuals while they are viral culture positive.
Potential for False Positive Results with Antigen Tests for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 - Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers (Technical)
12/22/2021 (Copy of NYT article)
How Accurate Are At-Home Covid Tests? Here’s a Quick Guide
When used correctly, many rapid antigen tests are good at detecting people carrying high levels of the virus.
By Emily Anthes
Dec. 17, 2021
In the early months of the pandemic, getting a coronavirus test typically required visiting a health care center, a laboratory or a dedicated testing site, a process that sometimes involved long lines and waiting a week or more to get the results.
Americans can now take rapid antigen tests from the comfort of their own homes. Many of these tests are available without a prescription and return results in just 15 minutes.
Demand for the tests has surged in recent months, as the highly infectious Delta variant has spread and schools and offices have reopened; now the even more infectious Omicron variant has arrived. “All the manufacturers are ramping up production, but right now they can be hard to find,” said Gigi Gronvall, a testing expert at Johns Hopkins University.
Although rapid antigen tests have their limitations, they are an important public health tool, experts said, particularly if you know how to use them.“Having that information and being able to make better decisions is very powerful,” said Mara Aspinall, an expert in biomedical diagnostics at Arizona State University who is also on the board of directors of OraSure, which makes rapid Covid tests. “And the ability to do this on a while-you-wait basis is something that we couldn’t do a year ago.”
What kinds of tests are available?
A handful of rapid antigen tests are available without a prescription, including the Abbott BinaxNOW, the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test and the Quidel QuickVue At-Home Covid-19 Test. Prices start at about $7 per test, although President Biden has announced plans to reduce prices by roughly one-third.
All three detect small viral proteins, called antigens. The tests require rubbing a shallow nasal swab inside your nostrils and then exposing the swab to a few drops of chemicals. They provide results in about 15 minutes.
The tests themselves are fairly straightforward, but each one involves a slightly different procedure, which should be followed to the letter. “If you’re doing at-home tests, you must read the instructions and follow them meticulously,” said Dr. Patrick Godbey, a former president of the College of American Pathologists.
A demonstration of the Ellume at-home test. Rapid antigen tests are a good option for people who have been exposed to the virus or who want to know whether their sore throat is Covid or just a cold.
How accurate are rapid antigen tests?
Polymerase chain reaction tests, which have typically been considered the gold standard for detecting the virus, are typically performed in a laboratory and involve making many copies of the virus’s genetic material. That process helps P.C.R. tests to detect even minute traces of the virus.
Rapid antigen tests, which do not amplify the virus, are less sensitive than P.C.R. tests. If you take one during the earliest phase of an infection, before the virus has replicated widely, the test could return a false negative.
Some of the at-home rapid antigen tests have an overall sensitivity of roughly 85 percent, which means that they are catching roughly 85 percent of people who are infected with the virus and missing 15 percent. In some studies, their real-world performance has been even lower.
But the tests are more sensitive in people with symptoms than without and are most sensitive during the first week of symptoms, studies have found.
And antigen tests are excellent at flagging people who have high viral loads — and who are thus most likely to be actively transmitting the virus to others, experts said.
“The more virus you have in your nose, the more virus you’re breathing out into the air, and the more virus other people can then breathe in,” Dr. Gronvall said. “The tests are very accurate, and correlate very well with P.C.R., when people are most infectious.”
Using the tests repeatedly — to routinely screen students for the virus, for instance — can compensate for their lower sensitivity. In one recent study, researchers found that when they tested infected college students and employees every three days, rapid antigen tests successfully identified 98 percent of infections, on par with P.C.R. tests.
When and how should I use them?
Rapid at-home antigen tests are a good option for people who have been exposed to the virus, who want to know whether a sore throat is Covid-19 or just a cold, or who want a little bit of extra assurance before visiting a vulnerable relative or after traveling to a virus hot spot, experts said.
The Omicron variant. The highly transmissible Covid strain appears to be less severe than previous variants, according to new studies. Research also suggests many non-mRNA vaccines offer almost no defense against infection, though the Pfizer and Moderna boosters, which are mRNA-based, likely provide strong protection.
The holiday season. With planned end of the year gatherings, the new Covid surge is prompting worries and cancellations. The Times asked experts to share some holiday guidance, as well as some tips on using at-home Covid tests (if you can find any). Here is what to do if you test positive for Covid.
Biden’s new plan. President Biden announced new steps to confront the surge in Covid cases, including setting up new federal testing sites, readying military medical personnel to help hospitals and buying 500 million rapid tests to distribute free to the public, though experts warned the measures would not stop an Omicron surge.
Around the world. After infections skyrocketed to record levels in South Africa, new cases have started falling, suggesting its Omicron wave may have peaked. In Europe, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark adopted tough restrictions, while France, Spain and Italy are taking a more measured approach.
People with symptoms can take a rapid antigen test immediately, experts said, but those who have had a known exposure to the virus should wait three to five days before doing so. Testing too soon, before the virus has had a chance to replicate, increases the odds of a false negative.
“And that is a critical, critical piece,” Ms. Aspinall said. “There are a lot of people taking a plane, getting off the plane and saying, ‘I’m negative — I can go visit Grandma.’”
Some businesses, travel authorities and other organizations may not accept the results of at-home tests when proof of a negative test result is required, however.
I tested negative. Now what?
Rapid antigen tests work best when they are used serially. If you test negative after a possible or known exposure to the virus, or after developing symptoms of Covid-19, you should take a second test a day or two later, experts said.
“Tests are a moment in time,” Dr. Gronvall said. “You don’t know the day or the hour” that the virus “breached your immune defenses and took up residence.”
But until the tests are cheaper and more readily available, it may be difficult to persuade people to use them frequently, she noted. “We definitely need more tests on the market, and we need them to be lower cost,” Dr. Gronvall said.
I tested positive. Now what?
Rapid antigen tests are highly specific, which means that they generate relatively few false positives. However, a positive result is more likely to be a false positive when the prevalence of the virus is low; in these instances, people may want to take a second test. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends lab-based molecular tests, like a P.C.R. test, for confirmatory testing.)
But experts recommended not waiting for the results of a second test to begin taking precautions. If you test positive, you should isolate yourself, monitor your symptoms and seek medical care if necessary.
Consumers should also report positive results to their local health authorities.
“If we don’t report tests accurately, we still won’t have a good idea of the actual caseload — how many people are running around that might be contagious, that might be passing this along to other folks,” Dr. Godbey said.
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