Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept over the world, science has made tremendous advancements, from the introduction of several vaccinations to the capacity for individuals to now use rapid antigen tests kit for the virus at home.
To that end, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for at-home COVID-19 tests that provide findings in 30 minutes or less.
We spoke with infectious disease testing specialist Gary W. Procop, MD, to learn more about what you may anticipate from them.
How COVID-19 exams administered at homework?
Dr. Procop and his colleagues evaluated three at-home rapid antigen tests, two of which are only approved for those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and need a prescription. The third is not prescription-only and may be taken by those who are or are not having symptoms.
These rapid antigen tests are basically simplified versions of quick test kits for use in the home. You collect your own samples and get the findings in the comfort of your own home. There is no need to submit a sample to a lab, and findings are accessible immediately rather than over several days. Additionally, you’ll avoid the danger of potentially infecting others by not having to undergo testing at your doctor’s office.
In certain instances, your healthcare professional may be able to get the test for you. If you’re unsure about doing the exam on your own, your healthcare professional may administer the test for you. However, if you are confident, you may administer the exam at home. Numerous rapid antigen tests kits even provide instructions for testing children. Ensure that you thoroughly read the guidelines and submit your findings in accordance with them.
Rapid COVID-19 at-home rapid antigen tests are also available in pharmacies but have been scarce lately due to the rise of omicron and the advent of the holidays. In other regions, health agencies, community organizations, and even libraries have begun dispensing rapid antigen tests to keep up with the increased demand.
If you are able to get a test — or many — it is beneficial to understand how each one operates. Here is some information about a handful of the various exams.
Lucira COVID-19 Test Kit, All-In-One
This test employs a technique known as isothermal amplification. It is analogous to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory tests that are the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing.
As with the PCR test, an isothermal amplification test duplicates the genetic material extracted from your self-collected swab, including any viral RNA present, via a process called amplification. By creating all of these duplicates, the test becomes more sensitive to COVID-19. You can read some of the best rapid antigen test tips at https://scalingimpact.net/important-tips-on-rapid-antigen-tests/
There are two significant distinctions between the home and laboratory versions of this test. To begin, the laboratory version isolates that genetic material, including any virus-specific genetic material, from the remainder of the sample. Second, although the laboratory version amplifies using heat, the home version amplifies using enzymes or antigen detection techniques.
Dr. Procop notes that by excluding DNA extraction and heat from the testing procedure, this sort of testing becomes more achievable at home and eliminates the need for the more sophisticated equipment generally associated with laboratory-issued PCR rapid antigen tests.
Test rapid antigen tests kits for antigens
Two of the at-home rapid antigen tests are antigen detection assays, one manufactured by Ellume and the other by Abbott. These rapid antigen tests seek for antigens, which are proteins generated by the virus that elicit an immunological response from your body. “The procedure is identical to that used to test for strep throat,” Dr. Procop adds.
Ellume COVID-19 In-Home Examination
Ellume’s antigen test does not need a prescription and is approved for usage whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. This exam is appropriate for children aged two and above and includes a smartphone application that provides testing instructions.
The gadget rapid antigen tests your samples and transmits the findings to the app through Bluetooth in around 15 minutes. Keep in mind that, although you may discuss the findings with your healthcare physician, this system will report positive results, together with your age and zip code, to local health authorities for case monitoring.
Ellume did recall some of the rapid antigen tests due to a higher-than-acceptable rate of false-positive findings. However, the FDA maintains that there was no effect on the reliability of negative test findings. Additional information on the recall may be found here.
BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test by Abbott
When Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test was initially offered, it needed an online screening prior to ordering. If your symptoms fit the criteria, a test was overnighted to you. The kit is now available for purchase in retailers.
Two rapid antigen tests are included in the Binax NOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test. You must test yourself twice within three days and at least 36 hours apart from this kit. According to Abbott, this COVID-19 test is intended to identify a current infection with or without symptoms and can detect several strains, including the delta variation. Within 15 minutes, you will get your results.
One thing to bear in mind is that this test does not comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) testing criteria for returning to the United States following a trip overseas. According to Abbott, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Card Home Test may be a superior option for this purpose.
The advantages and disadvantages of self-administered COVID-19 rapid antigen tests
There are several advantages to these at-home examinations. Apart from the previously noted benefit of keeping possibly sick individuals at home, they’re reasonably priced, ranging between $24 and $50. However, you should bear a few disadvantages in mind before using these exams.
Obtaining a test sample
“One of the potential concerns with these rapid antigen tests is the quality of the samples taken by the individual administering them,” Dr. Procop explains. “Collection is delegated to a user with less expertise than a healthcare practitioner, and a sample collected wrongly might result in an inaccurate test result.”
While wiping a swab over the inside of your nose may seem straightforward, Dr. Procop emphasizes the critical importance of following the guidelines. “It is safe to do the test on your own,” he explains, “but it is critical that it be conducted properly.”
How reliable are COVID-19 at-home rapid antigen tests?
Overall, the three rapid antigen tests work well, with an accuracy value of more than 90%. However, each has its own set of difficulties to consider.
With the Lucira test, the elimination of the genetic extraction stage simplifies at-home usage. However, Dr. Procop notes that the at-home version of the test is not nearly as sensitive as the laboratory version.
Ellume and Abbott rapid antigen tests are marginally less accurate than PCR testing (similar to quick antigen tests done by healthcare providers).
“These fast rapid antigen tests have a proclivity for producing some false-positive findings in asymptomatic individuals,” Dr. Procop observes. “Thus, if a person is asymptomatic but has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, it may be difficult to determine whether the test result is a false-positive or an actually positive result.”
Additional testing, he believes, would be required in such an instance.
When should you be tested if you’ve been exposed?
If you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you should confine yourself for five to seven days and then be tested. If the result of the test is negative, you should be OK. If you test positive, you should stay quarantined, contact your physician, and watch for any symptoms.