At-home COVID-19 tests are convenient, but should you be relying on them?

ATLANTA — Many stores are having a difficult time keeping their shelves stocked with at-home rapid COVID-19 tests.

After searching several stores, Channel 2′s Michael Seiden was able to get his hands on a test. He completed a nasal swab, downloaded an app on his phone and 15 minutes later had test results in his email. He tested negative for the virus.

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When Michael Garza’s 4-year-old daughter woke up with a cough and stuffy nose Wednesday morning, Garza and his wife assumed it was just allergies.

To be safe, the Cobb County family turned to a rapid COVID-19 at-home test to make sure.

“My wife took the test. I took the test, and then the challenge was getting our 4-year-old to take the test,” Garza told Seiden.

Within 15 minutes, the family had each received their negative test results.

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While they are popular for their convenience, those tests are not automatically reported to the state’s Department of Public Health, so can they be trusted? Seiden asked a national expert that very question.

Gigi Gronvall is a senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security where she has been working around the clock tracking the development and marketing of rapid tests.

“First of all, they’re really good at detecting if someone has COVID and is infectious at that moment,” she said.

Gronvall told Seiden that these are antigen tests, which are about 15% lower than the gold standard PCR test, but they do work.

The FDA has currently authorized three different types of at-home rapid tests.

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Companies have said they are working to increase production on those FDA-approved tests to keep up with demand.

Earlier this month, President Biden said that the government would purchase 280 million of these tests to expand testing to schools and lower-income communities.

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