Next week local pharmacies will start selling a rapid (15 minute) home test for COVID. The test is sold in packets of 2 and will cost about $24. The test is the Abbot BinaxNOW and has a sensitivity of 64% for symptomatic people, and 36% for asymptomatic people. That means in a patient who has COVID and has symptoms, the test will only be positive 64% of the time. In a person who has COVID but doesn’t have symptoms, it will only be positive 36 % of the time. That’s a lot of negative tests in patients that really do have COVID! So although this could be useful to diagnose people with COVID symptoms, especially if it’s used more than once, it’s really not very useful for diagnosing COVID in someone with no symptoms.
This test shouldn’t be used to “clear” someone to return to school, attend a social event, etc. If your child needs a COVID test, please call your doctor to discuss which test is most appropriate for your child’s situation, and timing of testing.