Sue Lovgren’s family member was ill with covid-like symptoms the week after Thanksgiving. They had to make decisions, depending on what the outcome was.
“We were waiting for a (polymerase chain reaction) test, and it took too much time, so we wanted to know at a faster time,” said West Deer Township, Allegheny County woman.
Lovgren looked around the net to see if any stores nearby had home covid tests on the shelf.
When she found out she wanted a lot of time to find one, she got one from a friend. The home test came back positive – a result later confirmed by the PCR test, Lovgren said.
Having a test kit on hand at home can be useful in the future if she is facing a similar situation, she said.
Others are looking for peace of mind around the holidays, before deciding to gather with friends and family ̵[ads1]1; especially as COVID cases continue to rise.
Way to reduce damage
Covid testing at home should have been common long before this point, said Amesh Adalja, MD, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert and critical physician.
“This technology has been around since the first months of the pandemic; however, it has not been deployed until late in the pandemic,” he said. a way that makes development costs high. “
Adalja compared the home tests with fentanyl test strips, which act as a harm reduction and mitigation measure. Fentanyl test strips indicate whether the potent and often lethal opioid is present in a drug.
“This kind of injury reduction paradigm is how we should approach COVID,” said Adalja, noting that such tests should be available “everywhere you look” as opposed to being scarce.
Announcement November 25:The Biden administration does COVID testing at home for free, here is what you need to know
Since the start of the pandemic, the US Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency authorizations for more than 400 test and collection kits, including more than a dozen home tests. Home tests include the quick antigen tests that give results in minutes and tests where you overnight sample to a lab.
During the same period, the FDA has received more than 4,500 requests for authorization for emergency use related to home tests, spokesman Jim McKinney recently told PBS NewsHour. The FDA has prioritized reviews of tests that can be mass-produced.
The last home test to receive emergency authorization came on December 15, when the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test was approved for people 2 and older.
Recall from October:Ellume is recalling hundreds of thousands of home test kits for coronavirus due to false positive concerns
The FDA noted “all tests may experience false negatives and false positive results.” Those with positive results are encouraged to isolate themselves and contact a healthcare professional.
Some home tests prove to be accurate in catching around 85% of people infected with the virus, the New York Times reported last month.
“Trying to capture all cases”:Are Cheap Home Coronavirus Tests The Delta Antidote?
A case for home tests
In addition to vaccinations, testing is one of the most effective ways to track and reduce the spread of COVID-19, said Nathaniel Hafer, a molecular biologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in The Conversation, a nonprofit “organization dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of experts for the public’s best interests. “
For almost two years, Hafer has been part of a program funded by the National Institutes of Health to help companies develop rapid tests to detect employees infected with COVID.
Here is some of what he had to say, edited for the sake of brevity:
How fast antigen tests work
Rapid antigen tests are designed to detect a portion of the protein – known as an antigen – of SARS-CoV-2.
First, take a sample from your nose or mouth with a cotton swab, as directed. You mix the sample with liquid that breaks down the virus. You then apply the liquid to a test strip that has antibodies specific for SARS-CoV-2 painted on it in a thin line.
If the antibodies bind to the viral proteins, or antigens, a colored line appears on the test strip, indicating the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
Tests are easy to use and give results usually within 15 minutes. Another benefit is that antigen tests can be relatively inexpensive, at around $ 10 to $ 15 per test.
When to use quick tests
If you have any covid-19 symptoms, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated, you should be tested immediately with either a PCR or antigen test.
The sooner you can find out if you have covid-19, the sooner you can isolate yourself.
Early testing is also critical because new drugs such as those from Merck and Pfizer are most effective if given early in the course of the infection, just after the symptoms appear.
If you get a negative antigen test but still feel sick, you may have had a false negative test. If you get a positive test, you should isolate yourself at home and contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you have no symptoms but have had close contact with someone with covid-19, what to do depends on your vaccine status.
If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC currently recommends that you wait five to seven days after exposure and then receive a PCR or rapid antigen test. If you are not fully vaccinated, get tested right away.
Studies have shown that serial antigen testing – usually two to three tests in a week – is on par with a single PCR test.
Tribune-Review staff writer Megan Guza and The Associated Press contributed to this report.