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COVID-19 rapid home tests are now available at local drug stores, but how accurate are they?

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dr. George Crawford with Regional Medical Center in Anniston says tests are more accurate when you are symptomatic for Covid-19.

He recommends them for people who are unvaccinated or fully vaccinated with underlying conditions. Dr. Crawford says these are a great way to limit visits to hospitals.

“As far as going to the hospital again you don’t want to overwhelm the hospital system for something you can do at home,” says Crawford. “We have plenty of tests, but we don’t have plenty of hospital beds. We have plenty of vaccinations that people aren’t partaking of. Focus on am I vaccinated or not.”

Rapid tests are the most reliable when used in people who have symptoms, scientists say. In those cases, these tests work well in comparison to the PCR tests processed in labs, which are mainly used to diagnose Covid-19 by doctors and take a day or more for results. If you’re asymptomatic and take one the results could be inaccurate because the levels of Covid aren’t high enough.

“For example my kid has been exposed to covid at school, but now I have symptoms and I have to go to work,” says Crawford.

“I need to figure that out. Then that’s when you get a Home test.”

In cases like these, Crawford recommends quarantining for 7 to 10 days and monitoring your symptoms. If they worsen, he says you should seek medical attention.

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