By Samuetta Hill Drew
The Biden administration has announced that Americans will have an opportunity to order free at-home COVID-19 test kits which began January 19. Each household will be able to order up to four at-home COVID-19 test kits. The Biden administration’s decision comes as the Omicron variant continues to soar across the country. At-home tests will allow people to test at home or anywhere without trying to find a COVID-19 testing site.
There are two types of at-home COVID-19 test kits. One COVID-19 at-home test kit is molecular, and the other is antigen. A molecular test usually involves a nasal swab (but sometime saliva). An antigen test usually involves a nasal or throat swab and is commonly known as the rapid test. An antigen at-home test can provide you results in a little as 10-15 minutes, where the molecular test takes perhaps an hour or less.
Many of you are asking yourselves what exactly are antigens? Antigens, according to the Verywell Health Journal, are crucial in the function of the immune system. The body needs to be able to recognize what belongs and what does not. Antigens are an important part of that process of identification. When the body identifies an antigen, it will initiate an immune response. Vaccines are used to create an immune response within the body against a particular antigen.
These free COVID-19 at-home test kits can look for antigens, or proteins, of the coronavirus and return results very quickly, typically within an hour and mere minutes. According to the ABC News, “These are different from lab tests, known as PCR tests. They look for viral genetic material but can take up to three days to return results.
Antigen tests are said to deliver highly accurate positive results. But, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out, false positives can happen. A false positive happens when a test says you have COVID-19, but, actually, you do not.
Use at-home self testing when you have COVID-19 symptoms (provided in former articles) or have been exposed or potentially exposed to an individual with COVID-19. Even if you do not have symptoms and have not been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, using a self at-home test kit before gathering indoors with others can provide you helpful information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. This is especially important before gathering with unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease.
Do not reuse test devices or other components of the self at-home COVID-19 test kits. After you have the results, safely discard the specimen collection swab or tube and test in the trash (away from children), clean all surfaces that the specimen may have touched, and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
If you desire to help Keep an Eye on Safety by ordering the free at-home COVID-19 testing kits made available by the Biden administration visit www.covidtests.gov. The test should ship within seven (7) to twelve (12) days. Shipping is free, also. The Biden administration said it will add a new phone number for people without the internet. You may wish to contact the COVID-19 hotline number for Alabama (1-800-270-7268) Monday- Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to get the federal government’s telephone number, so you can order the kits by telephone, if necessary.