The rapid increase in COVID-19 cases across the nation has led to a similar increase in demand for testing. There have been reports that at-home COVID-19 testing kits have become hard to find in stores and some major retailers have increased their prices for their available over-the-counter tests. Additionally, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand. So what does a business or healthcare facility need to know about COVID-19 tests and testing?
COVID-19 testing saves lives
Testing of all people, including those who have no symptoms, who show symptoms of infection and those who may have been exposed to the virus, helps save lives. Testing identifies people who need care promptly. A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to quickly seek care and isolate themselves. This reduces the chance to infect others, which is important for healthcare and other essential workers. Additionally, testing allows people to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing the infection’s severity and the risk of death.
Types of tests
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 tests can detect either SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or the antibodies that the body makes after getting COVID-19 or after getting vaccinated.
Tests for SARS-CoV-2 tell you if you have an infection at the time of the test. This type of test is called a “viral” test because it looks for viral infection. Antigen or Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) are viral tests.
Tests for antibodies may tell you if you have had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body creates antibodies after getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. These tests are called “antibody” or “serology” tests.
A viral test tells you if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. There are two types of viral tests: rapid tests and laboratory tests. Viral tests use samples that come from your nose or mouth. Rapid tests can be performed in minutes and can include antigen and some NAATs. Laboratory tests can take days to complete and include RT-PCR and other types of NAATs. Some test results may need confirmatory testing.
Self-tests are rapid tests that can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use and produce rapid results. However, a new study suggests at-home tests may not be as reliable during the early days of infection. Also, to help keep COVID-19 infection data as accurate as possible, self-test users are advised to report positive results to both their healthcare provider and local health department.
An antibody test (also known as a serology test) can detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood. Antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes to help fight infection and protect you from getting sick in the future.
Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection but may indicate if you had a past infection. Antibody tests help scientists learn about how human immune systems defend against the virus, as well as learn about population-level protection.
Antibody testing is not currently recommended to determine:
- Presence of current infection
- Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following COVID-19 vaccination
- Need to get vaccinated if a person is not fully vaccinated
- The need to quarantine after a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19
Buyers looking for COVID-19 testing kits online need to be extremely cautious. Some nefarious manufacturers are producing fake products. These products are not only a waste of money but could cause users to unknowingly spread the virus. When shopping for test kits, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises the following tips.
- Make sure the test you’re buying is authorized by the FDA. Check the FDA’s lists of antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests before you buy to find the tests authorized for home use. (EUA is “emergency use authorization.”)
- Check out a seller before you buy, especially if you’re buying from a site you don’t know. Search online for the website, company or seller’s name plus words like “scam,” “complaint” or “review.”
- Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites. You can get a good idea about a company, product or service from reading user reviews on various retail or shopping comparison sites. Think about the source of the review. Ask yourself: Where is this review coming from? Is it from an expert organization or individual customers?
- Pay by credit card. If you’re charged for an order you never got, or for a product that’s not as advertised, contact your credit card company and dispute the charge.
Let us help
For more than 30 years, Supply360 has been a reliable provider of quality medical supplies to healthcare facilities. To support providers and those they serve, we offer a diverse range of affordably-priced PPE and COVID-19 test kits. To learn more about how Supply360 can help you, call 866-710-7626 to contact one of our friendly in-house team members.