At-home COVID tests: Why They Are Important

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Written by Ray

March 3, 2022

Time and time again, people are reminded how COVID-19 testing is vital in preventing the further and rapid spread of the virus. Fortunately, since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, governments have worked to increase testing supplies and now the ability to conduct at-home COVID tests to determine if you have an active coronavirus infection.

With the surge of coronavirus cases and the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, many might be concerned about travelling, attending events, or simply going outside, regardless of vaccination status. Home COVID tests can help alleviate such worries and anxieties of contracting the virus and spreading them.

Contrary to diagnostic tests, at-home COVID tests allow people to know whether they have the virus or not without the need to travel to a testing centre. Hence, it reduces the chance of exposure to others and the possibility of passing on the virus.

Aside from the available testing options, conducting a test at home can further make COVID-19 testing efforts widely available. A negative result can provide you, your family, friends, and colleagues peace of mind knowing that you are free of the dangers of the virus. At the same time, a positive result can provide people with timely and vital information about their health and act immediately.

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It can also alert people to start self-isolation at home until they get better, but if symptoms persist, they can be rushed to a clinic or hospital should they require medical help,

How do the at-home COVID-19 tests work?

Essentially, these tests are home versions of rapid tests kits. People can collect their samples and results at home without the need to send a swab to a laboratory, and results are available in minutes. These are also similar to pregnancy tests. Ensure to follow all the instructions that come with the test, including how to swab and the appropriate amount of time needed before reading the result.

In some cases, others purchase a COVID home test kit then contact their healthcare provider to administer the test. However, this is only for people worried about conducting the test independently. These kits have an instructional manual for testing, with some for kids.

To further elaborate, the Home COVID test uses strips containing a critical protein present in COVID-19 called antibodies. When swabbing the nose with the supplied swab and applying the sample to the test strip, lateral flow technology moves the sample liquid over the antibodies on the test strip.

If coronavirus antigens are present in the sample, they will bind to the antibodies then the test will show a positive result. But if they are not present, results will be negative.

Types of at-home COVID-19 tests

Most home COVID-19 tests are PCR or molecular tests, which are the most accurate type of COVID-19 tests on a nasal swab or saliva sample. Most of the over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that can provide immediate results are antigen tests that might be needed before attending an indoor event in the UK but are not accepted for travelling purposes.

Home COVID tests also involve using a saliva sample, but these tests are less sensitive than nasal and throat swabs. Nevertheless, this coronavirus test is still considered a viable at-home testing option.

How accurate are the at-home COVID tests?

At-home COVID-19 tests perform pretty well, but there are some things to be aware of. At-home versions of COVID-19 tests might not be accurate and as sensitive as the laboratory versions. Antigen at-home tests can produce false-positive results in asymptomatic people. They detect COVID-19 best when they have a high viral load, which typically occurs when people are symptomatic and have been recently exposed, and the infection has recently begun. If the viral load is low, PCR tests are more reliable as they can detect even low levels of material.

What to look for in an at-home COVID-19 test?

Certification – Look for companies of testing providers that the UK government approves. This would ensure that they have federal certifications and are open to regular inspections. You can also check whether the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has approved the tests.

Results – Check how much time a provider issues results. Some issue results within three days. But others who wish for a more immediate result can choose a brand that offers results within 30 minutes.

Consultations – Many testing providers offer a free consultation for people who wish to discuss their results with a healthcare professional.

Instructions – Some at-home tests can have void or inaccurate results if tests are not conducted correctly. It is essential to choose a provider that can provide clear and easy-to-follow instructions to prevent the risk of affecting the test’s performance.

Other tips to include:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before administering the test.
  • Use each testing kit only once.
  • Ensure that the test is not expired.
  • Read results within the appropriate time frame.

Testing Method – Choose whether what you prefer among saliva, nasal, or saliva and nasal swab tests.

Who can take the test?

The test is appropriate for the following people:

  • Adults aged 16 and over
  • Teenagers aged 12-15 (with adult supervision)
  • Children 11 and under (will be tested by adults)

What should you do if your at-home COVID-19 test is positive?

Suppose you tested positive, self-isolate immediately for ten days to avoid spreading the virus to other people. The isolation period should start after you experience symptoms or the day after the results. You can end self-isolation after five full days if you take the day 2 and 8 testing scheme.

What should you do if you test negative for COVID-19 at home?

A negative test result means that you have a lower risk of transmitting to others the virus that causes COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms despite testing negative and taking the test appropriately, there might still be a chance of infection. If unsure, get tested by a healthcare provider.

Are you looking for a testing provider?

Harley Medic International is a government-approved testing provider and an expert in COVID-19 testing. They have many locations across the UK, ensuring that a testing centre is near you. Getting a test is as easy as booking online and finding their closest clinic. Visit their website harleymedic.co.uk to learn more.

Read More: How to perform an antigen test at home?

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