There are now COVID-19 tests you can do yourself in the comfort of your own home–on your schedule. But they cost more than $100, and their accuracy is in question.
The biggest difference between a testing site and these home collection kits is you—you’re doing everything yourself.
Bob Hawkes, director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s physician assistant program, says that’s where you can run into error. You have to make sure you are collecting the sample properly, otherwise the test will not work.
For example: Quest Diagnostics will send you a package with the swabs. You take the sample and send it back, then it’s processed.
“The most difficult part is getting the right sample,” Hawkes said. “So they will send you a swab, which is like a big Q-tip the people put in their nose to obtain the samples of the COVID-19. So people need to make sure that they’re getting enough of a sample and kind of running it around the inside of their nose. That would be the most problematic part, is ‘Can I get that right amount of sample?'”
You also need to make sure you’re getting your test from the right source.
“I think the important part is, if someone does obtain one of these kits and has it sent to their home, that it’s from one of the reliable labs,” Hawkes said. “Some of the more reliable labs that are doing a lot of testing, then yes, I think the reliability and validity of the test is very high. If it’s some small lab that may not have a lot of experience testing, then I might question the validity of it a little bit more.”
Hawkes also stressed that if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should probably just go to a testing site.