The number of at-home COVID-19 test kits these days are a blessing, but how reliable are they at showing you whether you’re positive for the virus or not. Let’s find out.
What Are The Different Types Of Test That You Can Take?
Before you start looking for at-home COVID-19 test kits, it’s a good idea to get to know these test types first so that you don’t end up ordering the wrong thing.
You can categorize the main types of testing into two based on what they look for: the antibodies test or viral tests.
Antibodies tests identify the presence of antibodies that fought an infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is there to identify people who have been infected with the virus, but not necessarily if they have it now. Thus, it’s not the test you want to take if you want to have a diagnosis of a current infection.
Since antibodies tests are there to help you find out if you’ve had the virus, the test that can help tell you if you have it now would be the viral tests.
Viral tests detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in you instead of the presence of antibodies that are fighting against the virus. Therefore, they’re a much better tool to use for detecting a current infection.
With that said, you can categorize viral tests into two categories: an RT-PCR test or an antigen test. Both of these can help you with a diagnosis.
RT-PCR tests are short for the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, which is the lab technique that they use to find out if you have an infection. Since this test requires lab testing, you can expect the results to take you a few days before you find out whether you’ve tested positive or not.
Rapid Antigen Testing
Rapid antigen testing is a test that looks for certain proteins that can indicate the presence of the virus. You can get your results in a few minutes because you don’t have to head to the lab to get them.
When Should You Consider Getting Tested?
Some people get tested even if they don’t have symptoms, but if you are hesitant about whether you need to get tested or not, here are a few reasons why you should consider getting tested.
- You are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Someone you recently encountered tested positive for the virus.
- You are planning to travel.
- You are visiting someone who’s immuno-compromised.
- There is a mass gathering that you have to attend, or you are required to get tested to attend a certain gathering, like going back to the office or to school.
If you fall under any of these categories, then it’s a good idea to get yourself tested.
How Reliable Are At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits?
If you’re going to get at-home COVID-19 test kits, then you need to know the reliability of these tests.
Antigen tests are great because they’re convenient, affordable, and produce results fast. However, they tend to produce false negatives as they’re not as sensitive to the presence of smaller amounts of the virus. That’s why some of these antigen tests are tests you have to take in a series to have more accurate results.
If you do end up getting a positive from an at-home test kit, however, that is a solid indication of you having the presence of the virus in your body.
When Should I Use An RT-PCR Test Vs. At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits?
RT-PCR tests are best if you need the results for a clinical reason, such as if you’re about to undergo a procedure. It’s also better if you simply want more accurate results and don’t mind the wait.
Antigen tests are a better choice if you’re showing symptoms and want a more definitive idea of whether you are positive or not.
Some people prefer to use at-home tests because they can’t afford an RT-PCR test yet. For example, a FlowFlex COVID Test Price costs around £3 for one test, and you can even buy it in bulk. RT-PCR tests, however, cost more than that with a price of around £50, but it depends where you get it too.
At-home test kits might not be as reliable as an RT-PCR test, but that doesn’t mean you should take them if that’s all you can access right now. They are still a legitimate way to diagnose yourself for the virus, so don’t hesitate to use one for yourself when the time comes.