Covid Testing: The best fast test facilities at home
After almost two years, one thing is clear:I'm not leaving anytime soon. One way to reduce stress and anxiety whether you have that tickle in your throat, headaches or fat allergies or COVID-19 is to have home tests by hand so you can easily diagnose yourself .
There are plenty of options for getting tested for COVID-19, ranging from free tests at a community test center or your doctor's office, but what about testing at home? Well, it turns out, there are plenty of options for that too. President Biden recently announced that anyone will be able to visit a website and request free quick tests - a total of 500 million will be available - starting in January 2022, but very little information is available outside the advertisement.
Below I've covered three different tests - I've used them all personally. Each one will give you test results, and hopefully peace of mind, in 20 minutes or less. The first two tests are affordable and widely available rapid antigen tests, while the Cue Health test is more expensive, but the results can be used to clear you for travel or to meet work and school requirements.
There is a huge demand right now all experiments in the U.S. as the omicron variable continues to spread, and we all plan to spend time with our families. Be patient but persistent when shopping for trials. And, again, if all else fails, go to a nearby test center.
The FDA currently approves the options listed below under the Emergency Use Authorization. I have linked to available FDA report for accuracy of each test when available.
Affordable quick tests for home or work
Cost: $ 13.98 | Number of Tests Included: 2 | Time for results: 15 minutes | Positive Test Accuracy: 94.3% | Negative test accuracy: 98.1% |
IHealth recently began selling the rapid antigen testing at home in a bundle of two for $ 13.98. According to the FDA, the iHealth tests were 94.3% inaccurate in detecting positive test results and 98.1% inaccurate in detecting negative test results.
Each test includes a nasal swab, extraction tube and the test card. There are two possible lines on the card. The line C always turns purple to indicate that it is a valid test. The T-line will still be absent if the result is negative, or it will turn purple - matching the C line - if the test is positive.
You can download the iVealth COVID-19 Test app on your phone for detailed instructions and to store test results for yourself, family members or colleagues.
I have given or taken a few of these tests now and the process is easy, but a bit confusing the first time because of how you move the sample from the swab to the tube. But once you get comfortable with the process, you will have no issues.
Commonly available quick test
Cost: $ 23.99 | Number of Tests Included: 2 | Time for results: 15 minutes | Positive Test Accuracy: 91.7% | Negative test accuracy: 100% |
You may have heard or seen the BinaxNOW test on store shelves. It's $ 23.99 for a package of two trials and is commonly available at Walgreens, CVS, RiteAid and Walmart. Stock and availability vary depending on where you live, so I recommend checking your local websites for inventory.
Inside each box are two instruction sheets, two nasal swabs, two relief droppers and two test cards. Each card has two lines, one Control and one sample. A purple line next to Control will always appear, as long as the sample line is only visible if the test is positive.
I have administered and taken a handful of these tests, and they are very simple. I prefer this testing process over the iHealth test tool just because you don’t have to worry about moving the sample properly. All you have to do is insert the swab inside the card, turning it a few times. However, while it is affordable, the price of this kitten can often be a series of excuses for testing.
The companion app will walk you through the validation process and even record your results for you, giving you a quick snapshot of the last time you tested and the results that came with it.
According to the FDA, BinaxNOW test results showed 91.7% accuracy for positive test samples and 100% accuracy for negative results.
Precious but more advanced and reliable
Cost: $ 225 | Number of Tests Included: 3 | Time for results: 20 minutes | Positive Test Accuracy: 97.8% | Negative test accuracy: 97.8% |
The COVID-19 Cue Health Test is the most expensive test on this list. Each test cartridge costs $ 75 and is sold in packs of three or ten. To use the cards, you need the $ 249 Cue Reader to process, analyze and send the results to your phone. You can buy a pack of 10 cartons and the Cue Reader for $ 949.
Why so expensive? Unlike the iHealth and BinaxNOW test, the Cue Health test is not a rapid antigen test. The test uses "nuclear acid amplification", which is the equivalent of a PCR test. PCR tests are the tests you get at a doctor's office or community test center and can take several hours or days to get your results.
The Cue system will give you results in about 20 minutes.
An independent study by the Mayo Clinic found that the Cue COVID test was 97.8% accurate. Here is the FDA report, too.
Cue offers two different membership plans for those who do not want to spend a lot of money in advance for the Cue trial system. For $ 49.99 per month, the Cue + Essential plan gives you 10 tests per year, a $ 100 discount on the Cue Reader, and 24/7 access in the Cue Health app to primary care physicians.
For $ 89.99 per month, Cue + Complete offers 20 trials per year, the same $ 100 discount on the Cue Reader, and - most importantly - the ability to take a guided trial at home. By taking a supervised exam, your test results will be CDC compliant and can be used to return to work, school or travel.
In other words, instead of going to the doctor for a PCR test and waiting a day or two for the results before you can get back to work, you can do a test at home and get the results in 20 minute.
Also worth considering
I've been having a hard time finding a few BinaxNOW tests in stock at my local Walgreen's, so if you run into issues looking for a test, here are some other options I haven't personally used but reviews advanced on Amazon:
What is the difference between an antigen test and a PCR test?
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the most accurate test type for COVID-19. The results from a PCR test are often what is needed for work, school or travel. Depending on where you take the test, the results can take several days to come back. PCR testing looks for the genetic material of the virus.
Rapid antigen tests often give results in 15 minutes but are less accurate than a PCR test. The antigen test looks for the proteins of the virus. Antigen tests are not usually accepted for travel or entry to work or school.
Didn't President Biden announce free home trials?
There is. However, it is not clear how the program will work. There are actually two programs. The original message stated that insurance companies would have to pay the costs of quick home exams, but it is likely that you would have to pay for the tests in advance and then file a refund claim with your insurance company.
The latest news said that you can order free trials through a website (still unnamed). The website and the rest of the information are due to be launched in January.
Until then, some tests are HSA / FSA eligible, including a Cue Health test subscription and / or tools.
Which test is right for me?
Whatever the current test (s) you are willing to pay for, at least until the start of the free home exam program. The more proactive we all are with a test when we are feeling sick or after being around a large crowd, the better off we all are.