COVID testing was previously only available at health care facilities, hospitals, or specialised testing centres. Before the test, there was generally an extensive line, and after the trial, there was usually a considerable wait for the results.
In April 2021, companies released fast viral tests, some of which required mailing to a lab and others that could offer findings at home. The second wave of testing was released in October for individuals concerned about the delta form. COVID-19 self-collection or self-test kits were recommended by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (also called home COVID tests or at-home COVID tests).
In pharmacies and retail establishments, several self-collection kits and tests are accessible. Some of these necessitate a prescription. The CDC adds, “The Food and Drug Administration provides information on which self-tests are approved for use.”
Self-collection kits and self-tests are now commonly used to detect current infections.
If you’re travelling somewhere distant with limited access to testing, COVID self-test kits are a good option. You might be able to avoid an unneeded end-of-trip excursion or help prevent the spread of the disease in isolated villages. Kits are compact and light enough to fit in your carry-on luggage. At $10 to $40 per kit, anyone travelling to locations where alternative testing is unavailable or results are slow to get should be considered.
When should travellers use these self-testing kits? What’s more, how accurate are they? Stretch responds to queries from travellers concerning COVID self-test kits.
What Is A COVID Self-Test and How Does It Work?
Over-the-counter COVID-19 testing kits are basically COVID-19 tests that you may do yourself. Purchase a kit, read and follow the directions, collect a sample, and analyse the results.
What Are the Different Types of COVID Self-Tests?
Over-the-counter testing is divided into molecular (also known as PCR tests) and antigen (also referred to as lateral flow tests).
The antigen test uses a sample collected from a nasal or throat swab, whereas the molecular test uses a nasal swab or saliva sample.
The antigen test result is read from the test kit in 15 minutes or less, so it’s termed a quick test. On the other hand, a molecular test necessitates using a laboratory to prepare and evaluate the sample.
Are Self-COVID Tests Effective?
A study looked at 64 COVID quick diagnostic procedures and discovered that molecular assays, often used in commercial labs, are more accurate. Molecular methods look for the virus’ genetic material throughout several testing cycles, magnifying what’s in the swab sample and requiring a considerably lower viral load to be detected.
Most at-home screenings are based on antigen tests, but the FDA has also approved two at-home solutions provided by Lucira Health and Cue Health. These FDA-approved COVID-19 kits are reliable, and retesting is rarely necessary.
What If the FDA Hasn’t Approved My Self-Test Kit?
Even though antigen testing is thought to produce accurate positive results, false positives might occur.
Most antigen testing kits recommend serial testing on the market. The packets typically come with two sets of tests, one of which should be completed a few days after the first to ensure accurate results. In a recent study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers discovered that utilising self-testing kits every three days improves accuracy. Using an FDA-approved test during the first week of symptoms and then testing three days later will give you an accuracy of 85 per cent.
When Should You Use a COVID Test at Home?
If you have a history of COVID-19 infection and have recovered within the last 90 days, you should speak with your doctor.
Is It Possible to Travel with The Results?
For international air travellers, the norms and procedures differ. As part of the country’s admission regulations, the United Kingdom currently uses home test kits.
Some self-testing COVID-19 kits could satisfy flight passengers’ requirement to display a negative COVID-19 test before boarding in the United States. Because it is completed under the supervision of a telemedicine administrator, you should pick the self-testing COVID-19 kit with a video component, whether it is a molecular or antigen test.
The CDC advises utilising a self-test that fits the following criteria for international travel:
A SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test or antigen test) authorised for Emergency Use by the FDA is required.
The testing procedure must include a telehealth service linked with the test manufacturer that provides real-time supervision remotely via an audio and visual connection.