Antigen tests and self-collection kits for COVID can be used by parents at home. Here’s how to utilize them and whether the results are reliable.

At-home COVID tests, often known as “quick tests,” can be found at most drugstores. They are able to detect coronavirus infections without PCR testing. There will be four free fast COVID tests available to every American family starting in January 2022, which can be requested online through a website.

As a result, you’re likely to have many more inquiries. Is it safe to administer these tests to children at home and can you rely on the results? Does the Omicron variety respond well to them?

COVID-19 at-home tests

Most parents have heard of the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) versions of the COVID-19 test. In a doctor’s office or testing facility, these “molecular” tests are used to diagnose a current coronavirus infection. They use a nose swab to collect a small amount of viral RNA and analyze it. At the very least, the results will take at least 24 hours to come back from the lab. The gold standard for COVID-19 testing is PCR testing.

A growing number of companies are offering quick COVID tests for self-administered screening as the epidemic continues to spread. Over-the-counter quick antigen tests and at-home collection kits are the two basic varieties.

Antigen Test

Antigen testing is the most common sort of home COVID test that parents may encounter. A response is normally returned in approximately 15 minutes, which is why these tests are often known as quick testing. 

For busy parents, the entire process may be completed at home, making it a huge time-saver. People may have difficulty following the instructions and doing the test correctly, which could lead to inaccurate findings. Molecular testing is far more sensitive than fast antigen testing.

Collection Kits for the Home

QuestDirect, a subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics, offers an at-home PCR sample collecting service. After being collected at home, the sample is sent to a laboratory where it is processed. 

To assure patients that their tests will be of the same high quality molecular test requested by their physicians, this alternative provides specimen collection at home. Patients can expect test results in one or two days after the lab receives the sample. These at-home testing can cost as much as $100.

At-Home COVID Testing Instructions

If you don’t follow the instructions on your COVID-19 at-home test thoroughly, you could end up with a misleading reading. In most cases, diagnostic tests require samples to be taken from the nose or throat, or spit into a tube.

The most common over-the-counter quick antigen tests require parents to slide a nasal swab about in their child’s nose for many seconds before inserting it. When the swab has been soaked in test reagent, they’ll wait for the results. Like a pregnancy test, you’ll get a computerized reading or lines that indicate whether you’re positive or negative.

How to Collect Your Own Samples at Home: Sample collection tools (presumably a swab) will be included. For sending samples to the lab, the kit includes a vial of stabilizing agent and thorough shipping instructions.

Is it Safe for My Children to Swab Their Own Noses?

At-home testing often requires a sample collected from the front of the nose, rather than the rear, as in earlier testing. Kids aged 3 can take their own samples, which gives them a sense of empowerment and independence while also helping their parents get a solid sample. When older students are subjected to surveillance testing at school, this is frequently how they respond.

It’s critical that you tell your child the whole truth about the testing procedure, no matter what. Although the swabs aren’t ‘painless,’ they are only painful for the five to ten seconds it takes to collect the sample. 

Step-by-step instructions for each exam vary; parents can keep a positive attitude, share realistic expectations for their child, and both distract and reward their child after the test is completed.

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