Hidalgo County health authority reminds the public of limitations of at-home COVID-19 tests
The free at-home COVID test kits are already arriving at Valley homes.
Health care specialists say it's important to understand their limitations.
All government issued at-home COVID test kits are rapid antigen tests, meaning samples don't need to be tested in a lab like a PCR test, and results take minutes.
But there's a downside, according to Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez.
"You can have up to 15 percent of a false negative test," Dr. Melendez said. "That means that you can actually have the disease and then test negative.”
The antigen test looks for specific antigen proteins found on a COVID-19 virus. When those proteins react with the antibodies on the test strip, the result is positive.
"The problem is you may not have enough of it, and so you may not be putting enough of a substrate to react and that is why it doesn't compare to the gold standard,” Dr. Melendez said.
Dr. Melendez recommends testing two to three days after exposure for more accurate results.
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