illustration of father and son receiving care outside of a curative COVID-19 testing van

Have COVID-19 Symptoms, But Still Testing Negative at Home? Here’s What You Should Do **

As of January 15, 2022, private health insurers are required to reimburse Americans for the at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests they purchase. Many Americans are testing themselves for the first time, and some are reporting that their at-home antigen tests are coming back negative despite experiencing symptoms. Here’s what you should know about self-testing when at home.

What are some of the most common reasons for a false negative?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) antigen tests are less sensitive than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.* At the onset of one’s COVID-19 infection, use of an antigen home test may not indicate a positive result when one is infected with the disease, due to lower sensitivity. Self-tests do not detect antibodies, nor can they measure your level of immunity.

If I receive a negative result on an at-home test but show symptoms of COVID-19, what should I do?

If you suspect that you’ve been infected with COVID-19 due to exposure to a positive individual or you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and you test negative with an at-home rapid antigen home test, you may want to consider taking a PCR test. To locate a Curative COVID-19 test site and book an appointment, visit https://curative.com/covid-testing

Per the CDC’s guidance on self-testing at home, although home antigen tests may not detect the virus, a negative result does not necessarily rule out the possibility of infection. If you’re experiencing COVID-like symptoms, CDC’s COVID-19 Prevention Actions are physical distancing when possible, vaccination, and wearing a high-quality mask around others to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the respiratory infection that causes COVID-19. 

If I take an at-home antigen COVID-19 test too early or too late after exposure, could I get a false negative or false positive?

According to the CDC, some self-tests are designed to be used in a series (also known as serial testing). You may want to consider repeating the test 24 to 48 hours later. Multiple negative tests may increase the confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why should someone consider taking a COVID-19 test with a community-based testing site like Curative, rather than taking an at-home COVID-19 test?

If you suspect that you’ve been infected, exposed to an infected individual, or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and test negative with a home test, getting a more accurate and sensitive COVID-19 PCR test could help confirm that the negative results are accurate rather than risk exposing members of your family and others to a possible COVID-19 infection. 

If you’d like to book a PCR test with Curative, please visit curative.com/book. For more information about Curative’s COVID-19 response visit https://curative.com/blog.

*For more information about the performance & intended use of the Abbott Alinity m

PCR tests please see the following SARS-CoV-2 EUA, patient fact sheet, IFU, provider fact sheet.

This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens.

The emergency use of this test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist to justify the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. §360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.
**The content on this blog is not medical advice. Patients experiencing a medical emergency or who have concerns about their medical situation should call 911 or their primary care provider (or the local emergency number) immediately. The CDC provides a list of some emergency warning signs of COVID-19 here.

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