Nowadays, due to the tireless work of all involved, COVID self-test kits are finally easy to access in many parts of the world. However, some people who haven’t tried self-test kits might be wondering if the convenience of getting the test at home may be compromising its quality.
If this is something that is concerning you, then this article can help you figure out whether COVID self-test kits are worth it.
Different Types of COVID-19 Testing
Before you order a self-test kit for yourself or someone in your household, it’s a good idea to know what the main types of COVID-19 tests are. That way, you know what type of test you’re getting and how effective they really are.
Viral tests look for the presence of the virus currently. Viral tests are diagnostic because they tell you if you are currently infected with the virus.
You can either get an RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test. Both of these qualify as viral tests. The difference between the two is that the RT-PCR test is more reliable in terms of the results but takes a few days before you could receive the results while the rapid antigen tests are less reliable but can show you if you’re currently infected.
Antibody tests are not diagnostic tests, so if you need to get a firm diagnosis of your COVID infection status, this is not a good choice. However, it does let you know if you have had an infection of it in the past. That’s because it looks for the antibodies that your body produces to fight against the infection rather than looking for the presence of the virus itself.
Self-Sampling vs. Self-Testing
You shouldn’t mistake self-sampling with self-testing. Self-sampling is when you send a sample that you took yourself to the laboratory before you get the results. Not only will the results take longer, but if you didn’t get the sample correctly, it can lead to false results.
On the other hand, self-testing is when you take the test yourself and interpret the results of the test yourself after. You don’t have to send the sample to the labs to find out what your results are.
Do COVID Self-Test Kits Work?
Whether you’ve been vaccinated or not, the COVID self-test kits should work. These COVID self-test kits’ reliability will depend on what type you did take.
There are at-home PCR tests that you can take, but you will still have to mail the samples off before you get the results and it will take a few days before you receive the results. However, most of the time, if you order a FlowFlex COVID test, which is an antigen test, it should be fine for ruling out a positive.
Rapid antigen tests often get false negatives rather than false positives, so if you get a positive result from it, then that means that you are currently infected with the virus.
Who Should Get Tested By a COVID Self-Test Kit?
You can get tested and buy a self-test kit any time you want. However, the people who likely need to do it more would be the following:
- People who were in contact with someone who tested positive.
- People showing symptoms of the virus.
- People who are about to meet someone who is immuno-compromised.
- Travelers, especially if headed abroad.
- People who are obligated due to attendance to either event or to go to school or work.
If you fall under these categories, then it’s a good idea to get yourself tested with a self-test kit.
When and Where Should I Get a COVID Self-Test Kit?
There are some people who are still entitled to get free COVID self-test kits from the NHS. However, this doesn’t apply to everyone.
Luckily, there are plenty of places that now sell self-test kits that you can buy and get delivered to your home. If you’re buying a privately-bought lateral flow test, however, you can’t report it to the government website.
Self-test kits are a great way to save you a trip from the point-of-care stations as well as to the hospital if all you need to get are test results for a COVID infection.
Although some tests have their differences, the key is to get tested when you need to. At the end of the day, as long as you do that, it doesn’t matter where you get tested, but self-test kits are one source that you don’t have to worry about in terms of reliability so don’t worry.