COVID-19 Tests: What Should You Get?



With the omicron variant of the coronavirus raging across the country, testing has become a crucial part of daily life.

As the Biden administration has pledged to distribute 500 million rapid tests in the coming weeks, people looking for home kits are seeing shops and pharmacies being cleaned up.

In New York City, hundreds of residents lined up for hours to get PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, with results returned in hours rather than 15 minutes.

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COVID-19 tests can detect either the SARS-CoV-2 virus or the antibodies the body makes with COVID-19 or after vaccinations. Antibodies are proteins that the immune system makes to help prevent infections and fight future illnesses.

Taking a viral test determines whether a patient is infected at the time of testing – including antigen or Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) – while antibody tests, or “serological” tests, can indicate whether the patient has been infected with the virus in the past.

There are two types of viral tests: rapid tests and laboratory tests.

BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test Wraps, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, at a store in Manhattan on November 12, 2021.
(Reuters / Andrew Kelly)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the antibody test is not recommended to determine immunity to COVID-19 after vaccination or if a person is infected, needs to be fully vaccinated, or needs to be quarantined after known or suspected exposure to COVID.

The agency says People who show symptoms of COVID, those who have come in close contact with someone with COVID-19, or people not fully vaccinated who have been invited or referred for testing should get tested.

Over-the-counter tests are among many risk reduction measures including vaccination, masking and physical distancing.

So what’s the best option for home testing?

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“What you need to know about what you can get now is you can’t get anything right now,” Jordan Savitsky told Fox News on Friday. Savitsky oversees COVID-19 testing programs for businesses as CEO of ATC Alert Health.

Savitsky said that by “sort of dipping” the White House had led manufacturers to divert test production from distributors who sold tests to stores.

“And that is why, over the past few weeks, they have been impossible to find,” he noted, adding that Abbott Laboratories, the maker of the popular BinaxNOW antigen self-tests, had threw away millions of test cards.

Savitsky said his company started performing COVID-19 testing at the start of the pandemic and now performs “more than 10,000 tests per day … in New York City alone, and much more than that nationwide.” .

When asked what advice he would give Americans looking for tests, Savitsky said, “I would say I would take any test I can get my hands on because, right now, we are not. just not in an environment where anyone has the luxury to choose. ”

He predicted that supply would eventually catch up with demand, with manufacturers going into “overdrive” to produce as many kits as possible.

Until then, he believes the long lines at testing sites will continue until people have a chance to get home tests for free.

“But, you know, home testing is never going to replace what they call point-of-care testing,” Savitsky continued.

Home testing, he said, would not be accepted for travel or work.

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Still, home testing is important for “peace of mind.”

“The mark does not matter. If it is authorized by the [Food and Drug Administration] – what they call an EUA, emergency use authorization – it doesn’t matter if it’s Abbott, if it’s iHealth, if it’s Celltrion. “


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