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When patients use at-home tests to check for COVID-19, their results are similar to results from clinicians using the same tests, according to a study in Microbiology Spectrum. Researchers compared the sensitivity and specificity of Abbott’s BinaxNOW patient-administered rapid antigen test (RAT) against RATs administered by a healthcare provider and against reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Of the 953 patients, 34.1% had at least 1 COVID-19 symptom. Hospital staff administered a RAT and an RT-PCR test to each patient, followed by the patient self-testing with BinaxNOW. Results from the RT-PCR tests found that 14.9% of patients had COVID-19. Participants and staff accurately identified 145 of 177 RATs that were positive for SARS- CoV-2  (81.9%). Nine patients missed a positive result (5.1%) that was ultimately identified by staff. Twenty-two positive cases (12.4%) were missed by both participants and staff. One patient correctly interpreted a positive test that a clinician incorrectly interpreted as negative. The sensitivity and specificity of the RATs were similar, regardless of whether the hospital staff conducted the test or the patient self-tested. 

Patients can do it right: “The study provides robust evidence supporting the reliability and utility of patient-performed RATs, endorsing their continued use in managing COVID-19,” said the authors.

Patients, Clinicians Have Similar Accuracy With Interpreting At-Home COVID Tests