COVID-19 testing is an essential tool to fight the pandemic, but getting tested at a clinic or a lab can be inconvenient, costly, or risky. That's why many people are turning to at-home COVID-19 tests, which allow you to collect your own sample and get results in minutes or hours without leaving your home. But how do you know which at-home test to use and how to use it correctly? Here are some tips to help you choose and use at-home COVID-19 tests.
Types of At-Home COVID-19 Tests
There are three main types of at-home COVID-19 tests: antigen, molecular, and antibody tests. Each type has its own advantages and limitations.
Antigen tests detect proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19. They are also known as rapid tests because they can give results in 15 minutes or less. Antigen tests are usually cheaper and more widely available than other types of tests. However, antigen tests are less accurate than molecular tests and may miss some infections or give false positives. Therefore, antigen tests are best used for screening purposes, such as before traveling or attending an event, rather than for confirming a diagnosis.
Some examples of antigen tests that are authorized by the FDA for at-home use are: