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At-home COVID tests not as accurate as lab results, Nevada doctor says

COVID-19 tests
Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 09:50:24-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Not only is it hard to find at-home COVID-19 tests, but some experts say it's getting harder to trust them.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says those tests aren’t great at picking up the omicron strain and people are more likely to do it wrong if nobody is assisting.

The highly transmittable Delta and Omicron variants have led to long lines at COVID-19 test sites in the Las Vegas area. To save time many are turning to at-home test kits, but that’s not always the best call.


The FDA says these antigen tests are less sensitive to picking up on the virus.

Director of Nevada State Public Health Lab Dr. Mark Pandori says the at-home test only detects the shell of the viral particle so it’s better to trust results from a lab.

“Methods that detect the chromosomes in the laboratory are much more sensitive than the methods that detect antigens which is what these rapid tests do,” Pandori said.

RELATED: Doctors warn about false negatives when taking at-home COVID-19 tests

He says variants like omicron will continue to get harder to pick up on because they are constantly evolving. He says an at-home test is still better than nothing, that is if you can find one.

The Biden administration is working to distribute half a billion free at-home test kits, Pandori says it will help, but the demand is still too high. He says we need more resources. Both short and long term.

“Throwing money at the problem hasn’t caused in one year period or a year and a half for many labs to appear, that’s a longer-term solution that needs to be thought through by federal and state local governments if they want to build more labs,” Pandori said.

Biden has signed the contract with a COVID-19 test manufacturer and Americans can expect those tests to be distributed as early as this month.

If you receive a negative test and are still facing symptoms, such as a runny nose, headache, or fatigue, health experts say to make sure to stay in quarantine and avoid spreading this virus.