Do We Need To Stock Our Medicine Cabinets With At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Tests This Fall?

by Elisha Beach
Originally Published: 
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When the school year starts, parents usually brace for the expected influx of germs that kids pass around at school. But it’s probably safe to say the 2021-2022 school year still won’t be “normal.” Although many school districts have pulled back on restrictions, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

With the Delta variant surging and Covid case for kids rising, a stuffy nose isn’t something that can be brushed off as a simple cold. So it’s crucial to be able to distinguish between the common cold and something more serious. And at-home COVID-19 rapid tests may be the thing to put parents’ nerves at ease.

It is quite understandable for parents to have some anxiety around their children returning to school when there is no vaccine for kids under twelve in sight. Not to mention, mask policies in schools are all over the place. Some school districts will not require masks, and eight states have banned mask mandates for school districts.

Furthermore, not all school districts, including New York City, will provide a virtual option for kids or family members with health issues that put them at risk. Nor do all schools have clear protocols in place to deal with an outbreak situation. And while at-home COVID-19 testing is no substitute for mask-wearing or getting vaccinated, it can be a useful and reassuring tool for parents as we navigate yet another school year in this never-ending pandemic.

Why Would You Need An At-Home Covid 19 Rapid Test?


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Sean Parson, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Ellume, develops, manufactures, and commercializes digital diagnostic products for healthcare professionals and consumers. He shared, “the goal of the product is to create a simple way for people to diagnose Covid and a better way to use that information to make better decisions for their health and the health of their families.”

With school starting amid Covid 19 cases rising, it’s almost inevitable that kids will be exposed at some point. And being able to quickly determine if your child has a common cold or Covid can make a big difference. Parson explains, “the most important thing is getting the result earlier so that you are less likely to transmit it within your community, within your household. Knowing that you have Covid sooner is an important piece of information.”

How Does An At-Home Covid 19 Rapid Test Differ From A Test You Would Receive From A Medical Facility?

Although Ellume was the first company to receive a true at-home authorization for an at-home Covid test, a few other companies have also released the FDA authorized at-home Covid 19 tests. Consumers can easily purchase them from retailers such as CVS, Amazon, and Target. And there are two methods of at-home testing: A home collection test where samples are collected at home and sent to a lab for analysis, and at-home testing, where you collect and test the samples and get results within minutes. And in case you are wondering, no, these are not Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.

Parson explains that at-home Covid tests use one of two kinds of technology. One is Antigen detection using rapid immunoassay. And those are big words, but it basically works like a pregnancy test to detect specific molecules. In this case, those are Covid molecules (or whatever you scientifically call them). The results can show as either a positive or negative sign, single or double lines, or digitally give the results. The other one is called molecular testing, which detects the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA), making it a bit more accurate.

How Are The Tests Administered?


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Most of the rapid Covid tests can be used on symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals and are suitable for kids 2 years old and above. They are usually administered by way of a nasal swab, although a couple utilize a saliva sample. Parson states, “For the first-time user, it takes about 10 minutes to work through the process of taking a sample and getting your head around how it works. It’s really simple. It’s not scary… it’s something that people will be comfortable doing.”

The Ellume COVID-19 Test Kit includes a child adapter for the swab to make it “a little safer and a little less scary” to swab a child. Parson explains that Ellume “always wanted this product to be simple to use for adults on themselves but also simple to use by adults on their children.” And anyone that has held a squirming toddler or preschooler during a nasal swab knows that the child adapter can come in quite handy.

As previously mentioned, the at-home collection kits are sent off to a lab for analysis, and consumers get the results within 24 to 72 hours. But the at-home testing kits allow you to receive results within minutes.

What is the average cost of an at-home rapid Covid test?

The good news is that an at-home rapid Covid test won’t break the bank. Although most FDA-authorized home collection kits have an average cost of about $100-$120, the FDA-authorized home testing kits prices range from about $20 – $40. And while it is an out-of-pocket expense, it can be covered by health savings accounts.

Parents have every right to be concerned about the possibility of their kids being exposed to Covid. And parents deserve to have all the tools they can to keep stress to a minimum during very stressful times. So if keeping at-Home COVID-19 rapid tests stocked in your medicine cabinet helps give a parent a little peace of mind during a still very active global pandemic… then go for it.

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