The Basics: At Home Covid-19 Test Kits

Everyone’s talking about them, “Where can you get it?”,  “How much are they?”,  “Are they accurate?”. At Legacy Medical Sales we’d like to give you the easy to understand basics about…At-Home Covid 19 Tests.

What types of tests are out there?

Many categories of tests are used to detect SARS-CoV-2,1 and their performance characteristics vary.

  • Some tests provide results rapidly (within minutes); others require time for processing.
  • Some must be performed in a laboratory by trained personnel, some can be performed at the point-of-care, and others can be performed at home or anywhere.
  • Some tests are very sensitive (i.e., few false-negative results or few missed detections of SARS-CoV-2); others are very specific (i.e., few false-positive results or few tests incorrectly identifying SARS-CoV-2 when the virus is not present); and some are both sensitive and specific.
  • Some tests can be performed frequently because they are less expensive, easier to use, and supplies are readily available.

Viral tests, including NAATs and antigen tests, are used as diagnostic tests to detect infection with SARS-CoV-2 and to inform an individual’s medical care.

​​Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) are high-sensitivity, high-specificity tests for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 infection. Most NAATs need to be processed in a laboratory, and time to get results can vary (~1–3 days) and can be performed on upper respiratory specimens, such as nasopharyngeal, nasal mid-turbinate, anterior nasal, or saliva.

Antigen tests (“At Home Tests”) generally have similar specificity, but are less sensitive than most NAATs. Most are less expensive than NAATs and can be processed at the point of care with results available in minutes and thus can be used in screening programs to quickly identify those who are likely to be contagious

Correct interpretation of results from both antigen tests and confirmatory NAATs, when indicated, is important.


What do my results indicate?

Positive test results using a viral test (NAAT or antigen) in persons with signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 indicate that the person has COVID-19, independent of vaccination status of the person. A negative antigen test in persons with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should be confirmed by NAAT, a more sensitive test. 

All persons (independent of vaccination status) with positive results should isolate at home or, if in a healthcare setting, be placed on appropriate precautions. NAATs have detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in some people’s respiratory specimens long after they have recovered from COVID-19 (>3 months). Studies have not found evidence that clinically recovered adults with persistence of viral RNA have transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to others.

What should I do with my results?

Testing yourself for coronavirus infection can be more convenient than getting a clinic or lab test, but from a public health standpoint, experts say there’s at least one key downside.

With the recent steep spike in demand for self-tests and the increasing positivity rate, “it is clear we’re underreporting (Covid-19 cases),” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association

Ideally, you should report positive results to both your provider and local health department. Your health care provider might need to intervene with treatments. Secondly, of course, it helps keep a better record of case counts.

“The best way to answer all of these critical questions we all have about the pandemic is through reporting of cases of COVID-19 to public health experts,” says Dr. Jonathan Golob, an assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan.

Before contacting medical professionals, have a few key details readily available, Benjamin and Golob advised, including the type of test you took (rapid or regular antigen or PCR); when you took it; when symptoms started, if applicable; your vaccination status, which vaccine you received, when your doses were and whether you have received a booster shot; any details about over-the-counter medications you have taken to treat symptoms; and names of people and places you were near in the days leading up to your test result.

So now you understand the differences between these tests and their performance characteristics. But where can you find them? Your search has probably resulted in hours-long lines at testing sites and out of stock signs at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens face consumers at every turn. Fortunately, Legacy Medical Sales has a variety of brands available now like QuickVue, iHealth, and FlowFlex on our e-commerce site- Need help? Contact a sales representative for more information on these products.