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COVID-19 lab testing vs. at-home kits: What you should know

Posted at 5:56 AM, Dec 22, 2021

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Malls and airports aren't the only place seeing crowds and lines, labs are too.

“Every lab is working around the clock. We are trying to speed up our ability to give accurate results," said Bin Wei, the laboratory director at World Wide Labz in Detroit.

Wei says while his team is working around the clock to deliver COVID-19 results this holiday season, people are at home taking kits that provide results within minutes.

“This at-home testing methodology should be helpful to help contain the spread of this virus," Wei said.

President Joe Biden plans to start sending out 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests to anyone who needs a test in January.

“We will be giving these tests to American for free. We’ll have websites where you can have them delivered to your home," Biden said.

The president says insurance companies will also cover at-home test through reimbursement.

For people who are considering getting an at-home test, there are a few things you should know.

"In order to generate a reliable and accurate result, the consumer also needs to follow the manufacture instructions," Wei said.

He says the test you order online or grab at your local pharmacy collects different biological samples.

“Some at-home tests, they are using nasal swab. Some of those tests, they are using oral fluid or saliva," he said. “The consumer also needs to be able to identify the color and interpret the results properly."

He suggests no matter the result — negative or positive try and get a PCR test to confirm.

“Sometimes at-home testing, they are not necessarily accurate or sensitive as lab test, so you certainly want to get a laboratory test," he explained.

If you can't get to a lab and your result is positive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel says call a doctor.

“Asking them about therapeutics if they are a good candidate antibody therapies," Hertel said.

She says getting a lab test also helps the state keep track of cases.

“Generally, when we see someone taking a rapid test, we would like to see them get it verified and that test is reported to the state," Hertel said.

Hereto says if you take an at-home test, get a positive result and you have severe symptoms, call your doctor if you can, but go straight to an emergency room.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.