11 FDA-Authorized At-Home COVID-19 Tests for Quick and Accurate Results
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, accurate COVID-19 testing has been an important step to tracking and limiting the spread of the virus. President Joe Biden even announced on December 2 that individuals with private insurance will be reimbursed for their purchases of at-home COVID tests, relieving some of the financial burden associated with the increase in cases.
While getting a COVID test used to require scheduling an appointment or waiting in line at a lab or pharmacy, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for a handful of at-home kits. This allows people to self-administer certain tests and either read the results at home or send the samples directly to a lab.
The emergency authorization means these tests have met standards set by the FDA during public health emergencies and are authorized for at-home use when necessary. Though in-person testing is still recommended whenever possible (and required for international travel), at-home rapid tests are an additional measure you can take to see if you've been exposed to the virus.
Are At-Home Rapid Tests Accurate?
According to Yale Medicine, the most accurate way to detect an active coronavirus infection is through an FDA-authorized PCR test (also known as a molecular test), which uses a nasal swab or saliva sample to identify COVID-19 genetic material. Since PCR tests require trained lab technicians to read the results, at-home PCR test samples need to be submitted to an authorized lab for testing. However, you can still purchase these types of COVID tests online, self-administer them in your home, and then mail your sample in without having to visit a facility.
PCR tests aren't the only coronavirus testing option. FDA-authorized rapid antigen tests are faster, easier to administer, and still tend to have accurate results. With a rapid test, you self-administer a nasal swab, follow the kit's instructions for running the test, and then read your own results in as little as 10 minutes without having to mail in your sample.
It's important to note that not all at-home COVID test kits have been authorized by the FDA—only a select few meet the requirements for emergency use authorization. Because a false positive or negative test result can lead to misdiagnosis and cause a delay in appropriately treating someone's symptoms, it's essential that you only use FDA-authorized tests. Stay up to date on the most recent EUAs and guidelines by visiting the FDA's website.
Where to Buy an At-Home COVID-19 Test
You can purchase at-home COVID-19 test kits in person or online from pharmacies and retail stores like CVS, Walgreens, and even on Amazon. The tests are designed to detect whether or not you have an active coronavirus infection and show your results in 30 minutes or less. Scroll down to buy some of the at-home COVID tests that were granted emergency authorization from the FDA.