Biden to make at-home testing free; over the counter test results not included in state COVID-19 data

Coronavirus

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – The White House wants at-home COVID-19 tests to be free starting January.

Thursday, President Joe Biden announced plans to make over-the-counter rapid antigen tests free through insurance and expand testing locations for those without insurance.

“If you’re one of the 150 million Americans with private health insurance, next month, your plan will cover at-home tests,” Biden said.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, results from over-the-counter, non-prescribed, Covid-19 tests are not included in the state’s covid count.

Results from take-home collection kits provided by DHHS through their COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit Program are included in statewide Covid counts.

Thomas Denny, with the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, is happy to see more free testing on its way but he said they’re just one part of combating covid variants, along with vaccines and masks.

“In some way, I wish we did this 12 months ago,” Denny said. “This is not going to go away until the pandemic goes away.”

Still, he says there are unknowns to consider when using at-home rapid tests.

“With the appearance of this new variant, we have to make sure that those at-home testing platforms will pick up the new variant,” Denny said.

In his experience, compared to antigen rapid tests, PCR lab tests are known to be the most accurate and still pick up other variants like Delta. But Denny said expanding at-home test options will help people who can’t get easy access to PCR testing.

“But given an option of no test versus an antigen test, we would say, take the antigen test,” Denny said. “You just have to be aware of where the limitations are.”

He recommends people get tested for COVID-19 four days after exposure.

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