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BA.5 is driving another wave of COVID-19 cases, as well as a rise in hospitalizations. TheIt is highly contagious and causes more infections in people who have already been infected with the COVID-19 virus, including during previous Omicron waves.
but sheWe’ve come to rely on (and even got ) able to detect BA.5?
While it’s possible that new research will emerge and demonstrate that BA.5 makes some tests less effective at picking up positive COVID-19 cases, the rapid tests seem to do their job. Here’s what you need to know.
How do home COVID tests work?
Home COVID-19 tests are usually rapid antigen tests, which work by identifying proteins in the coronavirus. If the proteins are in your nose when you scan it, there will be a second line on your test, and you should consider yourself positive and contagious with COVID-19. This is similar to how a home pregnancy test works, but pregnancy tests pick up the presence of a hormone rather than a virus. (And pregnancy isn’t contagious, of course.)
“Positive results remain very accurate for these tests, although there can still be false negatives,” Shailei Gandy, vice president of pharmacy at Single Care, said in an email. This is because it requires a greater amount of virus to test positive in a rapid test than a highly sensitive PCR or lab tests. For example, a person who has been fully vaccinated and boosted may have a very low viral load (lower amount of virus) and this may mean that they test negative even if they have COVID-19. If so, you may need a lab-based PCR test before COVID-19 can be confirmed. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a home test if you’re boosted, but more on that below.)
Do home tests work against BA.5? What is the best time to test?
Research continues on BA.5, which includes how effective tests can detect it, according to Gandhi. But how well COVID-19 home tests work may have less to do with the subvariable and more to do with it when tested.
You are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 when you have symptoms. Likewise, people without symptoms or people with mild symptoms may be more likely to get a false negative result than someone with a lot of symptoms.
“Under these circumstances, at-home tests are just as effective at detecting the omicron as they are with other variables,” Sandra Adams, a professor of biology and virologist at Montclair State University, told NJ Advance Media.
“Accuracy varies according to when the tests are conducted,” she added.
Gandhi said a “good general rule” is to take at least two tests, with a day or two between tests. You should also follow the instructions on any box you have, which often comes as a package of two tests, and stay updated on the FDA’s extension of the validity period of certain home tests.
And if there are home tests that are found not to work against BA.5, the Food and Drug Administration will revoke their authorization for that particular test.
“The FDA will know if there are performance concerns as they continue to monitor all authorized tests and scientific evidence over a period of time in case they need to make changes,” said Dr. Mark Fisher, regional medical director at International SOS. in a letter.
What is the incubation period for BA.5?
At the start of the Omicron rush in December last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its quarantine guidelines based on the understanding that people were most contagious with COVID-19 in the day or two before they developed symptoms, and two to three days later.
While some research indicates that BA.5 does not have a different incubation period than other versions of COVID-19, some people report a positive test result for longer, Gandhi points out. Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, noted in a report earlier this month that changes in BA.5 that facilitate entry into cells may explain why some people take so long to test negative.
“For now, while this new variant is still a long way off, I recommend testing it multiple times using at-home tests, and if symptoms persist. [and you’re still testing negative]Get a PCR test from your pharmacy or doctor.”
Unfortunately, a positive home rapid test result in all likelihood means you have COVID-19. So consider yourself contagious and follow.
Correction 8:03AM PDT Jul 26: The spelling of Shailei Gandhi’s last name has been corrected.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to provide health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.