What are some things that can cause a false negative when testing for COVID at home? The good news is that there’s a lot that you can do in order to ensure the accuracy of your instant read-out—read on for five quick tips on how to get it done right.
1. Taking the test too soon
The CDC recommends waiting at least five days after exposure to COVID-19 before testing yourself. Taking it too soon might mean testing when your viral levels are too low to detect. Start your countdown as soon as you feel symptomatic.
2. Taking the test too late
The same goes for the opposite—waiting too long may also yield a false positive. Just because you’re not sick now, though, doesn’t mean that the coronavirus’s presence isn’t still relevant to your health and the health of those around you.
In these cases, an antibody test for COVID might be more appropriate. It’s not over until it’s over, or so they say.
3. You took the test incorrectly
It’s not difficult to self-administer a COVID swab test, but plenty can go wrong—you may contaminate the specimen by touching it, or you might end up collecting too little fluid. You can beef up your own form with us here.
No matter which COVID-19 test you choose, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to a T, including the recommended specimen size, waiting periods, and any other requirements that the pamphlet lays out. You should also avoid eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, and smoking before taking a saliva test.
4. Out-of-date or improperly-stored tests
An expired test can perform, but the older it is, the less likely it is to provide a reliable result as the reagents contained within degrade and become less reactive and viable.
COVID test kits, rapid antigen tests in particular, should be kept in a cool, dry place of anywhere from 35F to 86F. IF you keep it in the fridge, allow it to come up to room temperature before using it.
Wouldn’t you know it? Sometimes, your reagents might just be having an off day. Trust nobody, not even your own at-home test kit.
If you know you’ve been exposed and are feeling very ill, little will be more frustrating than a false negative. Another confirmatory test could be the solution, and an RT-PCR test might even be worth the hassle if you’re really worried.
Thankfully, we can help with that.