ATLANTA (CBS46) – With COVID-19 exposure a constant concern for many Georgians, pharmacies are having trouble keeping home COVID test kits in stock.
The popularity of the kits has prompted questions about their effectiveness and accuracy.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement in home tests,” said Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD.
Whyte has tested every brand of home COVID test on the market. He says there are two types of kits: molecular (PCR) tests that users must mail to a lab and antigen (rapid) tests that provide results in 15 minutes.
Whyte said antigen tests aren’t quite as accurate because they look for a protein fragment of the coronavirus instead of looking at genetic material as the molecular PCR tests do.
Still, he said, the benefit of the antigen test is the convenience.
“The rapid test, whether you do it at a drive-through, a pharmacy, a doctor’s office, or if you do it at home – is basically the same test,” Whyte said.
“It was pretty simple. I just followed the instructions,” said David Patrick, a nurse practitioner in Atlanta who recently received a negative result with a home rapid test after being concerned about exposure.
“I have a friend who a couple of days ago told me he lost his sense of smell,” Patrick said. “I told him to grab one of those tests. He tested it, and it was positive, so I mean they’re pretty accurate.”
Whyte said with the home rapid tests, there tends to be more false negatives if users test too soon after exposure.
“Remember it’s an antigen test, so you have to have a good viral load for an adequate sample,” he said. “You might not have that the first couple of days, so if you have and you’re negative, they recommend that you test again in a couple of days.”