NEW ORLEANS — At-home COVID-19 tests are in high demand right now. If you're one of the many having to resort to buying them online, there are things you need to keep in mind to make sure you get one that's accurate.
Testing right now is more important than ever.
"With this virus being so infectious we need to go through this surge with as a little damage as we can," said LSU Health Genetics and Precision Medicine Lab's Lucio Miele, MD, PhD. "So at home tests do have a role to play."
However, you may have noticed, getting your hands on one isn't easy. And with demand increasing, so is the likelihood of you getting a test that may not be reliable.
"I understand the eagerness to know what's going on with your own body, so buying at home tests is a reasonable approach," said Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Chair, Xiao-Ming Yin, MD, PhD. "But just be aware that there might be a fake product there."
Kits found at local drugstores or giveaways are for the most part dependable. However, they quickly run out, which is forcing many to go online.
"If something comes from a shady website from a place you don't know, I would be very careful with it," Dr. Miele said.
To help make sure you get a valid test, only buy from trusted store websites (like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc.). If you're using a page like Amazon, research the companies selling the product and look at reviews. The one thing you must look for before buying any at-home test, is if it's FDA Authorized.
"Without such approval the performance could be questionable," Dr. Yin said. "So when you use it at home you might run into a situation where the test misguided you, may not be accurate, may not be correct."
If the test kit is genuine, it'll include FDA or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on the box.
"We're dealing with a virus that may be the most infectious virus ever recorded," Dr. Miele said. "If you're going to use one of these tests to make a decision to seek medical attention or isolate you want to have the most reliable possible information, so you want something tested by the FDA."
It's the one thing that will put the test above the rest. Which should then give you peace of mind that what you're buying, will give you the results needed.
When buying an at-home test, the best place to start is the FDA website. They've outlined a clear list of authorized tests and fraudulent ones.