As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, it’s important to take charge of your health and monitor your body for signs and symptoms (even if you’re fully vaccinated). Since cold symptoms and COVID symptoms can sometimes look and feel similar, experts recommend testing yourself whenever you experience symptoms of viral illness. And, yes, that goes for people with their booster shots, too.
Thankfully, plenty of companies now offer tests you can do at home, no prescription required. But how does a rapid, at-home test work? These tests are designed to detect viral proteins called antigens, according to The New York Times. Usually, the kits contain a nasal swab. After swabbing the inside of your nostrils, you’ll have to dip the swab in a small container of chemicals or insert them into a reader. Then, around 15 minutes later, the test will provide your results. Just make sure to read the instructions carefully, as each test differs slightly.
While at-home tests are generally considered less accurate compared to P.C.R. tests, or polymerase chain reaction tests, they can still provide accurate results. (P.C.R. tests are those swabs that go all the way up your nose. They amplify your DNA to detect the virus.) These rapid tests will also be more reliable for people who are showing symptoms and are the most sensitive during a person’s first week of symptoms, research shows, per The New York Times.
So, while you’re masking up, staying six feet apart from others, and loading up on hand sanitizer, here are eight at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to add to your shopping cart:
Cue Health Reader & Tests
The Cue justifies its relatively steep price tag with a slick, mobile-friendly interface and a simple-to-use system that delivers highly accurate, nearly PCR-quality (98 percent agreement) molecular test results in minutes. That’s just one reason it’s the testing kit of choice for companies like Google and Netflix, sports leagues like the NBA, and labs like the Mayo Clinic.
Reviewers Say: “The fact that Cue’s device can essentially provide the quality of a PCR test in the time frame of an antigen test makes it the best of both worlds,” Fast Company wrote.
On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
This test takes ten minutes from start to finish and also comes with an app. The app can store your entire family’s results, plus it provides detailed instructions to follow. No lab required!
Reviewers say: “Great product, seamless app, non invasive. I have to test one a week for work and this test is my go to.”
iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
This two-pack of tests comes in at just under $20. Simply download the company’s app on your smartphone and follow the instructional video for a step-by-step guide.
Reviewers say: “You’ll have your results within 15 minutes. The photos show how to read the results as well as both of our negative test results. Easy peasy!”
BD Veritor at-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit
You’ll need your smartphone to process these test results. After using the nasal swab, snapping a photo ensures that your test is easy to read and simple to interpret. No more guesswork!
Reviewers say: “No more looking at lines yourself and not being sure whether you did the whole thing correctly. I wish they had had this test months ago!”
Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit
In under 30 minutes, you’ll have a result with this test that claims 98% accuracy. It comes with all the supplies you need and can be taken by anyone ages two and up.
This is also another kit that’s FDA-authorized for one use, instead of two. So, unless new symptoms show in the next few days, it’s one test and done!
Reviewers say: “When our daughter received a (false) positive result from an inexpensive antigen test, she was distraught at the thought of being sick herself and potentially infecting the rest of us. We had these tests on hand and quickly tested our entire family. In less than 30 minutes, we had the results — we were all negative. No comparison to having to schedule another round tests while completely quarantining from her and the outside world!”
BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test
BinaxNOW’s tests are another great, at-home option. It’s also easily portable and promises results in just 15 minutes.
Reviewers say: “I bought these a few days ago and was astonished at how easy, quick, and accurate this test was.”
FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
Easy, straightforward, and under $10—this test is a sure bet. There’s only one in each box, though, so make sure to buy a few if you’re testing the entire family.
Another pro? This is one FDA-authorized kit that you’ll only need to use once (a.k.a. no re-testing days later to confirm your results, unless you have new symptoms).
Reviewers say: “I found this test to be very easy to use. It even lets you know if you have an invalid test result, so you don’t have to worry about a false negative. You get results in 15 minutes. It’s also less expensive than the old tests.”
AccessBio CareStart COVID-19 Antigen at Home Test Kit
Whether or not you’re experiencing symptoms, this set of tests is great to have on hand. Just minutes later, you’ll know exactly what steps you need to take next.
Reviewers say: “The package also comes so quickly and never a problem.”
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