Do at-home COVID tests detect the Omicron variant?

FDA suggests they may not detect as well as other tests

As the demand for testing has grown, the FDA announced at-home COVID-19 tests may not detect the omicron variant as well as other variants.

As the demand for testing has grown, the FDA announced at-home COVID tests may not detect the Omicron variant as well as other variants.

“The tests are still worthwhile,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. “Don’t let anybody think that the FDA was saying that tests are no longer good.”

The FDA released a statement on Tuesday that reads in part, “Early data suggest that antigen tests do detect the Omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity.”

“They never were 100% sensitive, the antigen tests, everybody knew that,” Fauci said. “What the FDA is saying today is that when you look at Omicron, its ability to detect Omicron, some of the tests have a diminution further of the sensitivity, but they still say the tests are useful and should be used.”

Baptist Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Shalika Katugaha, says these at home tests are pivotal to keep up with the demand of testing right now.

But whether you should use a rapid or go get a PCR test depends on the situation.

“If you don’t have symptoms, if your exposure happened a few days ago, if you are completely asymptomatic and had no exposures and want to gather or to travel these are all places to take this rapid test at home,” Katugaha said.

On the other hand Dr. Katugaha says if you have symptoms or are directly exposed to someone with COVID that’s when you should head to a testing site and get a PCR test.