The accuracy of At-home tests for Omicron

The accuracy of At-home Covid Tests

By Veena Mahalingam

Jan. 18, 2022

SAN JOSE, CALIF.  —  With the new Covid variant, Omicron, people are wondering if the at-home Covid tests can accurately detect another mutation. The Covid virus has mutated multiple times and Omicron is the newest alteration, The U.S. currently has the most cases. People have been on lockdown for a long time, staying at home to keep themselves safe. 

At home covid tests are an efficient way to get tested once in a while. People generally use it when they’re sick to check whether or not it might be Covid but if they are going somewhere like a trip, they should be professionally tested.

The virus has mutated many times and the Covid tests seem to be good at catching it in the early stages, but mutations happen because the virus is adapting to the changes we make.  The vaccines don’t seem to be as efficient when it comes to Omicron so what about the tests itself? It’s helpful because there are many people who can’t get professionally tested all the time. The Covid tests are available everywhere, efficient, and cheap.  

U.S. health officials say that the at-home tests do work for Omicron but it’s less sensitive at picking it up. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says the sensitivity might come down a bit but the tests are still important. 

The bottom line is, the tests still detect Covid-19 whether it is delta, alpha or omicron however, it’s harder to detect Omicron in its early stages. It could also give false negatives. If there was a large gathering, taking a covid test afterward would be a good idea but if the test comes back negative, it shouldn’t be trusted blindly. The best thing to do when noticing Covid symptoms is to take an at-home test quickly, then go to the doctor to get one done.

PCR tests are also a good idea because they seem to be more accurate and are done at hospitals and testing sites by professionals. Since PCR tests are tested in a laboratory by scientists, it seems like a more reliable source. At-home Covid tests are still encouraged but aren’t a hundred percent reliable, especially when testing for Omicron. 

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