7 Best At-Home COVID-19 Tests 2022
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, diagnostic tests of any kind were challenging to find, and their use was generally limited to people showing active signs of infection. The tests had to be administered in a medical facility, and the results could take a week to obtain. Later, a rapid form of the test using nasal cells or saliva could detect the presence of antibodies or antigens within 30 minutes, but the test still had to be administered in a lab or doctor’s office.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved several Covid tests for home use, although some still require analysis by an outside laboratory. One of the main selling points of these tests is privacy. If a person needs to know their current status, an at-home test eliminates the need to schedule a doctor’s appointment or stand in line at a busy testing center.
At-home Covid tests are becoming more widely available, and it helps to know how they work, how long it takes to get results, and how accurate they are.
Best At-Home COVID-19 Tests - Our Top Picks
1. Best Overall: iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test on Amazon
2. Best with App: On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test on Amazon
3. Best PCR test for budget: Amazon COVID-19 Test Collection Kit DTC
4. Best Value: BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit
5. Easiest to Use: DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva At-Home Collection Kit
6. More Comfortable: Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test
7. Fast Convenience: Quidel QuickVue at-Home OTC COVID-19 Test KitNotes:
FDA Warns About Counterfeit Home COVID-19 Test Kits
Q. How accurate are at-home Covid tests?
A. The goal of many at-home tests is to provide users with a rapid yes/no result, and the accuracy rate is comparable to other forms of at-home testing. One commonly used antigen test failed to detect 15 infections out of 100, meaning a 15% false negative rate. However, only 1 case in 100 resulted in a false positive. At-home tests don’t perform the more accurate PCR test for the presence of viral DNA.
Q. Why are these at-home tests so expensive?
A. There are only a few companies authorized by the FDA to produce at-home covid tests, so the laws of supply and demand influence the retail price per test. The technology used in the tests is also very advanced and proprietary. Some companies will seek reimbursement from medical insurance companies whenever possible, however.
Q. Is a saliva or nasal swab test better?
A. Both forms of sample collection yield fairly accurate results, so it’s often a matter of personal preference. Many find the saliva collection process to be less invasive than the nasal swab method, but the specimen may be more easily contaminated if it isn’t handled correctly. An at-home nasal swab collection doesn’t require the deep tissue contact of a standard laboratory test.
Q. I just had a positive result on my at-home test. When should I test again?
A. If you’re showing symptoms of a Covid-19 infection, you might want to get a more accurate PCR test performed by a medical professional. If you have a second at-home Covid test available (many test kits include two), you should wait 24 hours after the first test before performing the second test. Antibodies take time to form in the body and an early test may not detect their presence.