In the news
September 1, 2021
With a spike in cases spurred by the delta virus, demand for COVID-19 testing is on the rise again, and several at-home tests that have been approved for emergency use authorization are becoming more popular. But should you rely on a test administered at home to tell you whether you have COVID-19?
In a recent Washington Post article, Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory, explained the pros and cons of at-home tests, and discussed the different types of test kits that are now available. He also noted that one result from an at-home test shouldn’t be the end of the story.
According to the article: “Testing negative can provide some reassurance that you’re not infectious at the point that you take the test, but it doesn’t give people ‘a free pass to go and do whatever they want to do,” Dr. Binnicker says. A single negative result ‘basically tells you, ‘I’m probably not shedding really high amounts of SARS-CoV-2 right now.’” But that might not be the case in as little as six or eight hours, because the amount of virus in a person’s respiratory tract can change in a relatively short period of time.”
And a positive test typically needs follow-up, too. “There are important decisions like quarantine, isolation, staying home from school and work that can come from a positive test,” Dr. Binnicker says. “Confirming that result with a lab-based test is a really good idea.”