Just when we thought the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to subside, the Omicron variant made its debut, and the contagious virus is spreading faster than ever.
With the recent outbreak of Omicron, emergency care and testing centers have long lines that sometimes last for hours, forcing people to turn to home testing options.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 self-tests — also called at-home testing or over-the-counter (OTC) testing — are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that keep you safe. and others from the spread of COVID-19.
The problem? They are always out of stock. Ahead, get all the info on how to use home COVID tests, their accuracy, and where you can buy them online.
How to use COVID home tests
Of course, read the manufacturer’s full instructions for use before beginning the test, and be sure to speak to a healthcare professional if you have any questions about the test or your results. Here are the general steps for performing a self-test, according to the CDC.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Open the box and follow the instructions provided with the self-test to collect your own nasal or saliva sample. (If you do not collect specimens as instructed, your test results may be incorrect.)
- Perform the steps in the order in which they are listed. Some manufacturers may also provide quick reference guides or instructional videos.
- Take either a nasal sample or a saliva sample, depending on the self-test used.
- Then wait to see what result comes back. Usually it takes 15 minutes.
Accuracy of home COVID tests
Invalid test results are rare but can occur. Director of Infection Control Roy Chemaly, MD of the University of Texas MD Cancer Center, said “tests are only accurate 80% of the time, and sometimes less.”
Sometimes invalid results or an error may be displayed on the test device. Invalid results or an error can occur for many reasons: your sample may not have been collected correctly or the test may have malfunctioned.
Due to the current coronavirus infection rate being so high, many professionals suggest retesting with a PCR test if you have symptoms and test negative using a home antigen test as it could be a false negative.
Where to buy home COVID tests
Thanks to home COVID testing, many people now have the opportunity to test themselves instead of waiting in hour-long lines at their local urgent care office. The tricky part now is getting your hands on it. In an effort to help you get a self-test, we’ve rounded up a handful of retailers who still have self-tests in stock.
Note: These tests are in stock and out of stock by the minute, so be sure to check regularly to see if any are available at that particular time.
QuickVue Home COVID-19 Test, $27
This simple home test is licensed for non-prescriptive home use with self-collected direct anterior nasal (NS) swab specimens from individuals 14 years of age and older, and with anterior NS specimens collected from adults from these 2 years or more.
It is most effective when used within six days of symptoms or 24 to 48 hours after suspected exposure.
BD Veritor home Covid-19 test, $35
This rapid antigen serial test authorized for emergency use allows you to collect and test your sample at home and receive digital results on a compatible smartphone in just 15 minutes. The serial test is intended to be used twice over two to three days, with at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours between tests.
InteliSwab™ COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, $20-$24
This test requires less than a minute of hands-on time. InteliSwab has received emergency use clearance from the FDA for the self-test. You don’t need to ship samples to a lab or get a prescription from your healthcare provider. Get your result in 30 minutes.
BinaxNOW COVID‐19 Antigen Self Test (2 counts), $20-$24
Get your test results in 15 minutes or less with a simple nasal swab from the comfort and convenience of your home. BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is available under FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
Be sure to check these links from time to time, as BinaxNOW tests are in stock and out of stock quite regularly.