How reliable are at-home COVID-19 tests?


Written by Adonis Hakk

March 16, 2022

Two years into the pandemic, the role of coronavirus tests remains an indispensable tool in preventing the rapid spread and infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease COVID-19. At-home COVID-19 tests became a prerequisite to travel and helped contain and mitigate the pandemic.

With that being said, more and more people are seeking more convenient and faster ways to determine if they have the virus or not. Purchasing a COVID-19 home testing kit seems to be the most apparent answer considering it can deliver immediate results without visiting a testing centre.

These covid home test kits are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for self-testing at home or any other location. They can typically be ordered online or bought at nearby local retailers.

Which at-home COVID test should I choose?

There are two types of diagnostic at-home coronavirus tests that people can choose from an at-home rapid test or at-home PCR test. Both said tests could tell whether an individual has an active COVID-19 infection. However, they differ in accuracy rate and turnaround time.

Home rapid tests are less accurate than PCR tests but can provide speedy results and aid in deciding whether to get additional treatment. On the other hand, PCR tests can deliver highly accurate results, but it can take days to get results requiring specialised laboratory instruments. Nevertheless, results do not always take a few days; some are available after 24 hours or less.

To help you choose which test to get, consider the following:

  • At-home PCR test – You collect the sample and then mail it out for laboratory testing.
  • At-home rapid antigen test – You perform the test using the supplied material kit and interpret the results yourself.

Both tests are most accurate when an individual is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.  

Can at-home rapid tests effectively prevent person-to-person transmission?

With the current pandemic landscape, people can take home COVID tests to ensure that they are not carrying the virus or transmitting it to other people, especially important when attending gatherings or hosting one.

Unfortunately, they tend to produce false-negative results and miss asymptomatic infection. Hence, they are unreliable during gatherings as they might provide a false sense of security. A negative result from an antigen test does not automatically grant individuals the freedom to do whatever they please. After taking a negative antigen test, it is essential to take a confirmatory PCR test to ensure safety.  

Important Reminders About At-Home COVID-19 Tests

At-home COVID tests are not a substitute for preventative measures to keep people safe during the pandemic. It must not hold greater importance than COVID-19 vaccines, wearing of face masks, and physical distancing.

If you are planning to plan a safe gathering, work onsite, or attend indoor events, do not be reassured by merely taking an at-home COVID test. Still, the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the following:

  • Get fully vaccinated.
  • Get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Wear masks, especially in crowded areas.
  • Observe proper social distancing.
  • Do not go to poorly ventilated places.
  • Avoid crowded areas.

Are you looking for a testing provider?

Harley Medic Global 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 to learn more.

Read More: Reliable Test Providers for Fit to Fly Rapid Antigen Test


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