With at-home COVID testing increasing, experts warn of flaws

Experts warn of flaws with at-home testing mushrooming
Posted at 10:31 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 11:33:28-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House recently announced new steps to increase production of at-home COVID-19 tests.

It includes a plan that will quadruple the supply of at home tests by December.

There's a lot of optimism from infectious disease experts that more at-home testing, combined with increased vaccinations, will help towards putting an end to the pandemic.

But testing wisely is key.

“Since you need to have more virus in your system for the tests to turn positive than with PCR you have to test with them more frequently and closer to an event that you're interested in going to,” said Stephen Kissler, a Ph.D. for the Harvard School of Public Health. “So you would want to test the morning of going to school or the morning of a gathering in most cases.”

Infectious disease experts say the at-home tests are reliable, but they do have limitations.

“There's always some fraction of time that the test will give you a false negative, so it will tell you that you don't have COVID, when in fact you do,” Kissler said. “And that's an issue with both the rapid tests and with PCR sometimes at different rates.”

False positives can be an issue, but experts say it's a rare occurrence.