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Everything You Need to Know About Rapid, At-Home COVID-19 Tests

 |  General

Although most people have received the COVID-19 vaccine and feel comfortable going out in public because they have been immunized, the virus still plays a role in our lives. For example, some employers may still require a negative COVID test from an employee who was sick before they return to the office. Some family members that are older or immune-compromised might want their loved ones to take a COVID test before seeing them. Some people might just want to know if they have COVID or a regular flu or cold when they’re feeling sick. Thanks to the COVID rapid test, also commonly called a self-test or at-home test, this can be done from the comfort of your own home.

We realize that you might have a lot of questions about the COVID at home test. What is it? How do I get one? How accurate is it? Does someone need to help me, or can I do the test on my own? You can find answers to these, and many more COVID rapid test questions, here.

What is a Self-Test or At-Home Test?

A COVID at home test provides quick results and is effective regardless of your vaccination status or what symptoms you may be experiencing. They detect current infection but cannot detect antibodies that would indicate a previous infection. These tests also cannot measure your level of immunity.

These tests can be taken anywhere, but many prefer doing them in the privacy of their own home.  The tests provide results in just a few minutes rather than tests that go to a lab and take a few days for you to get the result, hence the name “COVID rapid test.”

When to take an At Home COVID-19 Test

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s recommended that you take a COVID rapid test as soon as you can. If you spent time around someone who recently tested positive, you should test for at least five days after you came into contact with them. If you plan to go to a large indoor event, you should take a test before you go to ensure you won’t be putting others at risk.

How to get an At-Home COVID-19 Test

Local pharmacies can have rapid COVID tests you can buy, but they can also be ordered for free from COVIDtests.gov. Your local health department may also offer free tests. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed for purchasing a test yourself.

How to Use an At-Home COVID-19 Test

Different COVID rapid test manufacturers may have slightly different instructions on their packaging that you should read before using the test. However, most COVID at home test instructions follow along the same lines – simply wash your hands, collect a nasal specimen with the provided swab, and test the specimen.

If you’re more of a visual learner, the CDC YouTube channel has this video that explains the process.

How accurate are at-home COVID-19 Tests?

A COVID rapid test can return three results: positive, negative, or invalid. A positive result means you have a COVID-19 infection, and a negative result means the test did not detect the virus. However, a negative result does not totally rule out infection. You can trust that positive results will be very dependable, but you may want to test twice to see if you get a negative result twice. Although the COVID at home test has a 90% accuracy rate, that number was achieved in a controlled testing environment. It’s impossible to account for the degrees of human error, and the test provides limited information.

Sometimes an invalid result may occur. In this case, you will need to test again to get an accurate result.

Have questions about COVID-19 testing and your health? Bayless Integrated Healthcare is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a virtual primary care appointment!