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COVID-19 at-home test kits are flying off shelves. But are they accurate?

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - With COVID-19 cases near record highs, COVID-19 tests are in high demand. The issue is they’re not always available at the doctor’s office.

CBS7 checked out at-home COVID-19 tests kits to see how well they work.

The at-home kits, which are selling like hotcakes, test for antigens, which is the presence of the virus. PCR lab tests test for the genetic material of the virus.

That means that the home tests aren’t quite as accurate as the PCR lab tests, which are about 85% correct on positive results. But that doesn’t mean they’re not useful.

“It is a little less accurate than the PCR, but it all depends on how symptomatic you are. If you are symptomatic, the two tests correlate quite well,” said Dr. Charles Lerner, a member of the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force.

Experts say that user error is the most significant cause of inaccurate results.

“The home tests when performed by patients is less accurate than home tests when performed by trained personnel.”

The tests can be purchased at several locations including CVS, H-E-B, and Walgreens and only take about 20 minutes to complete.

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