COVID has taken the entire world by shock. The pace at which it spread and completely changed our lives was intense. And even though we are in a much better position now then we were 6 months back, precautions and safety measures are equally important today. As vaccines continue to roll out, we are slowly moving back to the old way of things. But to find out whether you need it, or not, is an important thing. And more often than not, people tend to miss out on checkups and testing because they have to go out and visit a doctor. So, it’s best to learn about covid testing at home and its benefits.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
In order to know whether testing is actually required by you or someone in your family, it is important to know about the symptoms of the disease first. Most of the infected people have very mild symptoms of COVID, and only 1 out of 6 people actually experience problems needing them to be hospitalized. So, you might not even notice your symptoms, and even if you do, they might go away very soon. But still, if you are feeling your health isn’t great, then here are the symptoms that you should look for:
- Dry cough
- Loss of Appetite
- Body aches
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms vary from person to person, and depending on how badly you are affected, they might apply to you. The more of them you notice, the worse the situation is, in your case. Other than this, there are some added problems too, affected people have reported. These include sore throat, Headache, Diarrhoea, Nausea, Loss of Smell and Taste, among others. I have talked about all these symptoms are mostly minor and get cured automatically for most people in 2 weeks. But certain symptoms require instant hospitalization and intensive care. They are:
- Trouble in Breathing
- Pain and pressure in the chest
- Blue lips or face
How to observe the symptoms effectively?
People often get overwhelmed by the number of symptoms of COVID-19. And it is obvious because all these add up to some other mild form of conditions like fever or cold. But most of the time, having a single or two symptoms from the ones named above probably means you are safe. It’s just that when most of them sum up, there is a high probability that you have contracted COVID-19. For example: If you have a problem in breathing, have a fever, and even your eyes are itchy, then you could have the virus. But if you are still not sure, then going for a test is probably the best idea. Now tests can be done by visiting a clinic or at home. But for the sake of this article, we are going to focus on doing COVID Testing at home.
Why is COVID testing at home important?
It is not always convenient to go to a clinic to get yourself tested for COVID. And as the pace at which the number of patients increases, the number of testing that can be done daily is limited, so results might be delayed and cause issues. Many people might be worried that visiting a clinic could expose them to the virus, while some are just lazy to go out. Whatever the case is, COVID testing at home can prove to be very beneficial for you. And, for all those people, many COVID tests have been authorised that can be used from the comfort of your sofa at your house. And the best part about these tests is the speed at which they give the results.
General COVID testing
The most common COVID test that is used in clinics and hospitals is the swab sample test. In this, a sample is taken from your nose cavity, and a polymerase chain reaction is performed on it. This test gives one of the most accurate results and is also used for testing Ebola and Zika. It mimics the process of converting the covid virus RNA to DNA and then creates many copies of the same and marks it with dyes for identification. The test is based on the idea of how coronavirus affects its host’s body and detects it.
The RT-PCR test requires a sample to detect the coronavirus and has minimal chances of contamination. But there is a problem with this test. Since the test completely depends on the swab sample, it cannot detect whether someone has COVID, if their nose is clean or if someone has contracted the virus and was cured. There is another kit called the PCR test, which is the opposite of the RT-PCR test and used to detect the virus using the DNA. It is also very effective for COVID detection and requires a small sample, and gives highly accurate results.
Types of tests
There are two types of COVID test that can easily be performed at home. These are the nasal swab test and the saliva test. Generally, the swab tests are cheaper but difficult to use and give faster results. On the other hand, the saliva tests are a little costlier but are easy to use and takes 1-3 days to give results. Let’s take a look at how both of these work:
- Swab tests: In this type of test, one needs to take a sample from the inside of your nose and use it for testing. In these tests, the sample is collected from deep inside your nose and can be a little troubling. Moreover, if not accurately done, the tests can be false.
- Saliva tests: These tests are based on a saliva sample and cannot be tested at home. You need to pack it in a tube and send it to the lab. This is also the reason why they are much easier to conduct, as you don’t need to poke something deep inside you. And another good thing is that they are as accurate as swab tests.
COVID testing at home
There are many types of Covid tests that work on different principles. One of the most used of which is the isothermal amplification technique. In this, the test kit forms a huge number of copies of the virus’s genetic material. It then uses the same material to look for proteins that are generally found in Coronavirus. These are the proteins that invoke the immune response of the body.
One such test is the BinaxNOW test. The same uses the PCR based and Isothermal Amplification method. It is used widely for testing at home, but the percentage of accurate results is underwhelming. Reports suggest that only about 64% of tests performed on symptomatic (showing symptoms) people are accurate, and for asymptomatic (not showing symptoms), the accuracy drops to 35%. It does give fast result, but the lack of a reverse transcription makes its results swing wildly. People have reported getting false negatives, especially those who were recently affected by the virus.
Another test method that doctors recommend is the antigen method. It is mostly recommended to those not showing any form of symptoms. And there is a high chance that the same will give accurate results. So, in case you get positive results, take the necessary steps. Still, if you want to be perfectly sure, doing the test twice is a good idea. Apart from the BinaxNOW tests, many other ones are approved for Emergency use at home. These tests were approved for the sole reason that we are in a life-threatening situation, and doing everything formally is impractical.
1) Cue OTC test
This test will become available very soon for widescale use at your residences for COVID tests. The test uses a nucleic acid amplification method for higher accuracy and takes about 20 minutes to give the results. Reports suggest that the test is highly effective in detecting both positive and negative cases. In fact, 97.4% of the tests done for positive patients were accurate, while even greater 99.1% tests for negative patients were correct. It is still not available in the market, but once it does, using it from your house’s comfort can be very helpful.
2) Ellume COVID-19 tests
The Ellume test is great for anyone willing to check themselves for COVID without having to go out of their house. You wouldn’t even need a prescription for the same, and it will give you fast results (15 minutes max). The test uses a sample from your nose and is easy to use. You need to take a sample, keep it in the analyzer, use the processing liquid and wait. After the results are found, it is transmitted via Bluetooth to the connected smart device and also with the authorities to map the outbreak. This test also has very high accuracy(around 96%) and is expected to be priced at $30.
The Ellume Covid-19 tests are from Australia. And the Biden administration has made a $231.8 million deal to get 8.5 million units of the test. The US government is also building a facility in the country in order to manufacture the testing kits there itself. On an estimate, the US facility will be so large that it will be able to produce 19 million tests per month. And till then, Australia will deliver about 100,000 units every month to the US. This is going to be a big move for the government as it will enable a much faster speed at which detections are made. It will, in turn, make it possible for rapid control of the outbreak.
3) Abbott’s BinaxNOW test
The other two tests that I talked about can be easily bought from a drug store. But the BinaxNOW test is not that easily accessible. First of all, you need to answer a lot of questions on their site, and if they show the fact that you could have the COVID virus, then it will be delivered to your house. After the delivery, you will be guided by a professional who will help you how to get the sample. After collection, the sample needs to be put on the analyzer that shows the result in about 15 minutes and sends it on the app. The test costs $25 and requires you to submit a prescription.
4) Lucira test
It is also quite an effective way to test for Coronavirus from the comfort of your house. Like the BinaxNOW test, it will need a prescription, so you must visit a doctor to get the test. The test takes 30 minutes max to give fairly accurate results.
Saliva test options
All of these tests are more or less a good option for COVID testing at home. But if none of them appeals to you for any reason, there is another way of getting to know if you have COVID. It will cost a little more but if that is okay, then here is what you can do. Amazon has started testing service using Dexterity mail-in test kits. It costs $110, and I will need you to post it at the given address for diagnosis. It takes a few days for the results to be out and posted on the company’s site. The best part about this test is the fact that it doesn’t require you to take a sample from your nose. Here you need to provide a saliva sample which makes it even easier to conduct the test.
Another similar test is the CRL rapid response test that uses a saliva sample to get the results in about 24-48 hours. This test is also quite effective and can help you know with 90% accuracy if you have COVID or not.
How to keep yourself safe from COVID?
“Prevention is better than cure” is the aptest statement for this scenario. And now that you know how to do COVID testing at home and which kit to choose, let’s take a look at how you can prevent that testing requirement. Here are some of the pointers that will help you:
- Always wear a mask in public and maintain 6-feets distance from people. If maintaining that isn’t possible, then its best to avoid going to very crowded places.
- Never eat anything without washing your hands. And it’s always better to avoid eating outside and cook your own meal.
- If you don’t have access to soap and water because your work needs you to travel, keep a good quality sanitiser in hand. A 70%+ alcohol presence will be great for keeping the germs at bay.
- Don’t meet people who are sick and avoid people not wearing masks.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or any other body parts unless you have washed your hands.
- Avoid touching rails, seats and areas that people generally have contact with as they are more prone to have the virus.
One more thing to remember is that you should not get emotional if someone in your family gets sick. Getting close to them could ultimately end up by you having the virus too. It is best to have a separate room and utensils for food and any form of contact. It does seem to be a lot, but such precautions are for the best. After all, if you fall sick along with your loved ones, then taking care of them wouldn’t be possible.
What are your thoughts on the idea of doing COVID testing at home? And what will you prefer, clinical test or home test? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you found our content informative, do like it and share it with your friend. Finally, I would like to add that “Stay Home, stay safe!” Don’t go out unless very necessary and always wear a mask in public. We will win this together.
Recent, the Biden administration has been released a $1.9T stimulus package that will try to speed up the vaccination process. It is also going to help those who have lost their jobs and don’t have any present earnings. The government is working with full-force to help the masses, and there is a high chance that things will get back to normal very soon.