Photo by Roman Wimmers
The upsurge of coronavirus cases causes lines in testing clinics to be long and the waiting even longer. With a lot of people waiting to be tested, it might be a risk to head to testing facilities, so at-home tests are the other alternative for you.
At-home COVID-19 tests are rapid antigen tests. They recognize proteins, which are called antigens, on the exterior of the virus, and the procedure can be done at home. These tests typically recognize and identify an active coronavirus case in symptomatic people.
At least 15 minutes is all it takes for several rapid antigen tests, which are accessible with no prescription, to process results. Prices start at about $7 each, and the whole procedure can be executed at home.
“The rapid test works when an antibody—a molecule with a sticky spot that only sticks to a particular antigen protein—adheres to one of the antigen proteins on the surface of the virus,” says Loma Linda University Health director of clinical lab, Paul Herrmann, MD. “This explains why the test works when there is plenty of virus present.”
But you should be aware that an antigen test is sometimes inaccurate. In the event that there is a lower amount of virus present, the antibody may not detect it. The test will then show a negative result even with the virus being present; this is called a false negative.
Sometimes, the antibody molecule will cling to a protein not in the virus, mistakenly suggesting that the virus is present even when it’s not; this is called false positive.
In using the antigen test, you have to swab the inside of your nostrils and then leave the swab in a few chemical drops. It is a convenient procedure as the swab only gathers substance from the mid-nasal area. Every test kit has its own specific procedure, so paying attention and emulating the instruction is critical.
“The better you follow the instructions, the better the statistics are,” said Herrmann.
Whatever the result on your test may be, Hermann recommends quarantining or seeking the help of a medical professional, especially when you have symptoms.
However, in the case of a positive result, relay the results to a public health department as they will know the procedure on how to deal with your situation. The data is important because the health department uses it to observe the virus’ effects in the society and to execute necessary measures.
The Food and Drug Administration has permitted many test kits for use by the public with Emergency Use Authorization. A growing amount of these tests provide at-home results. Any brand approved by the FDA is appropriate for use for all of these tests have similar detection technology and effectiveness.
Because of increasing demands, it might be more convenient to purchase online. The US government is making an effort to deploy free, at-home tests. Tests can also be ordered through a government website.
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.