At-Home Tests: The Facts, Types & Accuracy

With a spike in COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, more individuals needed to be diagnosed with the right treatment pathway to prevent the infection from spreading. Even currently, new disease strains are causing a surge in coronavirus globally.

That’s why medical corporations and government authorities collaborate to bring innovative technology for COVID-19 tests. This ensures not only accuracy in results but also convenience for individuals who want to test and diagnose themselves at home. Still, there are plenty of government-approved at-home rapid tests, such as the FlowFlex covid test, which can be ordered online or bought in a pharmacy.

Nevertheless, we have listed 3 types of at-home tests in this article along with facts and accuracy to help you purchase the right one according to your needs and expectations. Read below to learn!

Different Types of At-Home Tests

1.    PCR Test

PCR test, also called molecular test, looks for the SARS-COV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) in an individual’s DNA. Since it requires advanced machinery and lab technicians’ expertise, this test is only authorized for home collection.

In other words, you can collect your sample at home through a nasal or throat swab or by spitting your saliva in the sample container, and then you will have to send it to the lab or clinic. You will receive results within 2-3 days via email, phone, or app.

Accuracy

As the PCR test looks for even the slightest traces of coronavirus present in a person’s DNA by replicating a single sample of DNA into a billion copies, it is the most accurate test. Therefore, you don’t have to repeat the test after getting a positive/negative result.

2.    Antigen Test

A rapid antigen test works by collecting any possible antigens in your body, such as the SARS-COV-2 virus. The test strip you can buy online or from a medical store has antibodies specific to coronavirus.  

This at-home test requires you to collect your sample via nasal or throat swab. You must mix it with a solution and put it on the test strip. If a colored line appears, it means you’ve tested positive for coronavirus.

You must only wait 15-30 minutes to see the result.

Accuracy

The rapid antigen test is not as accurate as the PCR test because it is less sensitive to coronavirus. To put it another way, if you are asymptomatic or in the early stages of COVID-19, a rapid antigen test won’t be able to detect the virus because it is only found in minimal quantities.

3.    Antibody Test

Unlike PCR and antigen tests, antibody test only helps you identify if you have previously contracted coronavirus. The blood test looks for antibodies that fight against coronavirus in your body. 

Its at-home kit requires you to prick your finger with a stick and send it to the labs, which you may receive on the same day or within 3 days, depending on the lab.

Accuracy

Since your body starts releasing antibodies after 1 week of the infection, it may not provide accurate results in the 1st week. Usually, week 3rd seems to provide the most accurate result.