By SCOTT ELNES
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
When we think of COVID-19 tests, most of us think of waiting in lines in our cars or standing in hospital parking lots,
But there are now new tests that you actually perform at home.
Dr. Melissa Sutton, a Senior Health Advisor at Oregon Health Authority says the times, they are a changing.
“To my knowledge, they are not yet widely available, but they are sort of on the brink of being widely available,” she said. “So into 2021, I anticipate we’ll see a lot more of these in a rapid test to be performed at home hitting the market.”
She said that the main reason we haven’t seen them already is because the science has shown that they may not be ready for market yet.
“There’s a very high false negative rate and when that’s the case, I think in in many ways you can do more harm than good,” she said. “You know, if you if you test someone who is negative and you tell them this or maybe you don’t tell them that, but that they walk away with that idea, it could be dangerous. You know, they can go visit their grandma and infect someone who’s vulnerable.”
But Rick Hennessy, the CEO of Empower Diagnostics – a company that is producing rapid, at-home tests, says the early false-negative data came from companies who didn’t hold themselves to high enough standards and those false negative numbers are about to change.
“Yeah, I think there’s a tendency where rapid tests could have high false negatives. In that situation, it’s usually a company that really didn’t take the time to optimize their tests and make it great,” Hennessy said. “It took us almost a year to make an antigen test that’s rapid, that’s 98% accurate in our trials, and it was a lot of time money and hard work. If companies are, you know, taking the time to optimize and their following ethical standards, you should have a really high quality, accurate, low cost and fast test.”
Rapid tests will have to be paid for out of pocket. And if your pockets are running a little thin these days, there is a good resource available to you.
“If you don’t have insurance we have a number of low barrier, free testing events statewide. I think we’ve now reached 19 counties and we’re going to continue scheduling those events through the first quarter of 2021.”
But keep in mind, OHA warns us not to become fixated on one source of protection.
“So I always want to acknowledge the very real limitations of testing. You know, testing is important, but it is one tool in this in this pandemic, and the truth is that the two best tools that we have right now are: First, masking, hand washing, physical distancing and avoiding social gatherings, and now vaccination. You know, get your vaccine when it’s your turn and when it’s available.”
For more info: www.doineedacovid19test.com