Can home COVID-19 tests make holiday gatherings safer?

Can home COVID-19 tests make holiday gatherings safer?

Yes, combined with vaccination, home test kits for COVID-19 can add a layer of safety and reassurance by providing on-site results during this second year of pandemic holidays.

“We’ll use quick tests to check everyone out before we get together,” says Dr. Emily Volk, president of the College of American Pathologists, who plans a holiday meal with six vaccinated family members. “We’ll do it when they get in the door.”

Home kits are not as accurate as the PCR tests done in hospitals and at test locations, Volk says. But they have the advantage of giving results in minutes instead of days.

Tests are available at pharmacies without a prescription, and a box with two tests usually costs around $ 25. Swabs, test solution and instructions are included.

Adults and adolescents can test themselves. An adult can test a child as young as 2 years old. How-to videos on product websites can be helpful.

Most tests require a shoelace around the nostrils in both nostrils, so it can tickle but not hurt. You will get a positive result if the test detects a virus protein in your sample.

Home tests will miss some infections and in rare cases will erroneously indicate an infection. One popular test misses about 15 out of 100 infections – these are called “false negatives” – and gives a false positive result in about 1 in 100 people who are not infected.

Lack of testing has been widely reported during the recent growth of COVID-19, but new choices have recently hit the market and major manufacturers such as Abbott Laboratories have expanded production.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers other tips on ways to enjoy the holidays safe. Vaccination remains the best way to protect against coronavirus.

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The AP answers your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Send them to: FactCheck@AP.org. Read more here:

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