Doctor Explains Why People Should Have Confidence in Results of at-Home COVID Tests

Dr. David McManus says while a positive result from an at-home COVID-19 test should be followed up with a PCR test, a negative result is more than 99% accurate and should make people feel comfortable gathering with family this Thanksgiving

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For some families, this Thanksgiving will be the first in-person gathering they've had in nearly two years.

"It feels good, because you know, there's a lot of family members you haven't seen for a while, and this year, we're able to do that," said Milaine Colainni of Worcester, Massachusetts.

And some are considering using over-the-counter COVID tests to feel that much safer to gather in-person.

"I would definitely consider using one. I think it's something I have to talk to my family about, too, because there are a couple people that are a little bit nervous, so maybe bringing that up might make them a little less nervous," said Julia Carrier of Oxford.

Still, some are questioning the accuracy after the FDA recalled more than 2 million Ellume COVID-19 home tests due to false positives.

"I want to debunk this myth that's out there that we should not be trusting home COVID tests. We absolutely should," said Dr. David McManus with UMass Chan Medical School.

Dr. McManus is one of a team of researchers at UMass and across the country putting together large, post-market surveillance trials of these rapid at-home COVID tests.

"We're looking at performance characteristics, the sensitivity of the test, the specificity of the test," he said. "What is the likelihood, for example, that if you test positive, that it's a true positive, versus a false test?"

McManus says people should have confidence that a negative result is more than 99% accurate.

He says so far, studies show a positive result is between 80-90% accurate – and therefore should be followed up with a PCR test.

"That test has been tuned to try to avoid missing a diagnosis of COVID, and you transmitting it to people that you love or care about," McManus explained.

If you get a negative result, McManus says you should have confidence in it and feel comfortable gathering with family for the holidays.

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