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Rapid At Home Covid Antigen Tests: Some Information

Rapid antigen home tests are useful to test yourself and/or family members for Covid-19.  These tests detect the presence of the Covid virus proteins not the virus RNA like PCR tests.  They detect virus from the nasal cavity in 15 minutes and correlate well with the period of virus transmission.  Every test comes with complete instructions how to perform the test - and it is important to follow the instructions exactly in order to get a valid result in 15-30 minutes..  There are at least a dozen products available, but during the omicron surge they may be hard to find.  Our government is now sending every HOUSEHOLD 4 free tests.  Order them online at covidtests.gov.

When is the best time to test? 

If you are exposed to a Covid+ person, test 2-3 days after the contact.  If negative test again daily or every other day until at least day 6.  If you are positive isolate immediately.  

If you have Covid symptoms, test, but if negative, repeat again the next day because there may not have been enough virus yet in your nasopharynx the first 24 hours.

If you want to test to make sure you are not infected before you are attending an event, or meeting with older or immune-deficient people, the best time to test is right before you go to the event.  You may be negative in the morning, but positive later in the same day.  The results with omicron can change quickly.  


There are many sites with information about the Rapid At-Home Antigen tests.  This is a link to one that has information about using the tests and specific brands in case the tests may be hard to get. 


The tests that will be sent by the government are from iHealth- and they have very complete instructions with the test and on their website .  The test box in my collage has the iHealth box markings.

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