Rapid at-home tests are COVID-19 antigen tests that are self-administered with a testing kit. When used correctly, at-home tests are highly reliable and a critical tool in controlling the spread of the virus because of their easy access and fast results.
At-home tests are most effective when there are high amounts of the virus present, such as when you are symptomatic. For this reason, they are less able to detect COVID-19 during the earliest phase of the illness when low amounts of the virus are present. This is why at-home tests sometimes require repeat or serial testing (re-testing in 24-48-hour intervals). Repeat testing reduces the chances of getting a false negative result. If you are infected with COVID-19 but tested negative early in the course of your illness, you may test positive later on when virus levels increase. Multiple negative at-home tests increase the confidence that you are not infected.
Updated November 17, 2022