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We examined three covid-19 tests at home. Here is what happened

As a result, I don’t think some home tests are as useful as I expected. If used on a secret search scale, it can send millions of people anxiously into lab tests and seeking medical care they don’t need.

Are you still important?

As the 19 pandemic of the world spread, economists and scientists He called for mass testing and monitoring of contacts in the U.S. to find and isolate infected people. The number of tests performed daily in the U.S. has never exceeded 2 million, according to Covid Tracking Project, and most were made in laboratories or special instruments.

Their managers said the home tests will now be manufactured in the millions, but some experts are not sure that the tests that worked perfectly will change the picture of the pandemic much at this time. “The real value of these tests was six months ago,” says Amitabh Chandra, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. “I think the over-the-counter movement is great, but it has limited value in a world where vaccines are available.” Vaccine credentials may be more important than the test results for traveling and eating.

Companies that sell tests say they are still an important strategy to get back to normal, especially considering that children are not yet vaccinated. For employers who want to keep an office or plant open, they say self-directed consumer testing can be a good option. An Abbott spokesman told me that people can also help “start thinking about coordinating a bridal shower, baby shower or birthday party.”

The UK government began issuing exclusive antigen texts on April 9 for free, by post and on street corners, saying it wants people to have a “habit” of testing twice a week as it eases restrictions on social exclusion. Along with vaccines, free trials are part of the nation’s plan to eradicate the virus. Later, however, a leaked government note said hHealth officials were concerned about the tsunami of privately positive fakes.

In the U.S., there is still no national campaign around home testing or subsidies, and as a pocket expense, they are too expensive for most people to use at full frequency. That may be the best, given my experience.

Types of tests

The three tests we tried included two antigen tests, a BinaxNow kit from Abbot Laboratories and an Ellume kit, as well as a molecular test called Lucira. In general, molecular tests that detect coronavirus genes are more reliable than antigen tests because they detect the presence of the outer shell of the virus.

Everything you need is in a single box, except in the case of the Ellume test, which has to be paired with an app. Overall, Lucira’s test had the best combination of accuracy and simplicity advertised, but it was also the most expensive at $ 55.

We have not tested Quidel QuickVue, another antigen test, or a Cue Health molecular test. These tests, although allowed for home use, are not yet sold directly to people.

After testing all the tests, I have no intention of investing in regular use. I work from home and I don’t socialize, so I don’t have to. Instead, I plan to keep at least one test in the closet, so if I feel sick or lose my sense of smell, I’ll quickly find out if it’s covid-19. The ability to test at home may be more important when the cold and flu season returns next winter.


By BinaxNow Abbott

Time required: About 20 minutes
Price: $ 23.99 for two people
Availability: In some CVS stores that started in April. Abbott says he runs ten million BinaxNow tests a month.
Accuracy: 84.6% to detect covid-19 infections, 98.5% to correctly identify covid-19 negatives

This is home version The White House last year used a 15-minute quick test to screen staff and visitors. It is an antigen test, which examines a sample taken from the nasal sheath to detect a protein on the surface of the virus. It went on sale last week in the US, and I was able to buy a two-test kit on CVS for $ 23.99 plus tax.

The technology used is called “lateral flow immunoassay”. In simple terms, that means Badabil as a pregnancy test. It’s basically a paper card with a test strip. As the sample passes through it, the antibody attached to the virus protein strikes and strikes a colored marker. If a virus is present, a pink bar appears in the list.

I found it pretty easy to test. You use an eye drop to throw six chemicals into a small hole in the card; then, after turning in the nostrils, you insert a sponge. Rotate the swab clockwise, fold the test card to contact the swab, and that’s it. Fifteen minutes later, a positive result appears as a faint pink line.

The downside to the test is that there is room for two different types of user errors. It’s hard to see that the drops are coming out of the drop, and using them too little can create a false negative. So remove the nose incorrectly. Unlike other tests, this cannot say that you made a mistake.

In addition to being a user error, the test itself has problems with accuracy. BinaxNow is the cheapest test, but it is likely to be wrong, as about one in seven actual infections are missing. Abbott warned that the results “should be treated as intended” and “do not rule out SARS-Cov-2.”

But the buyer will not find the rate of accuracy without searching the fine print. The company also buries the crucial requirement set by the regulators: to compensate for the lower accuracy, you will use both tests in the kit, with a difference of at least 36 hours. I doubt the temporary buyer will notice. The requirement for both tests is hardly mentioned in the instructions.

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