A number of at-home coronavirus test kits have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and can be purchased without a prescription online or from drugstores. Public health officials are urging Americans to get tested before traveling or gathering with friends and family members, making rapid tests an important tool for curbing a variant that is expected to cause record-high covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States.
But research into whether the tests can detect the latest variant has just started (early results suggest that the Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue tests can do so, according to the FDA). And experts also emphasize that the tests are not 100 percent accurate and that a negative result shouldn’t be thought of as a “pass” to live as if there weren’t a pandemic.
Here’s what else you need to know about home tests — when to take them, how to get them and how to interpret the results.