To reduce the risk of missing an infection (false-negative results) and prevent people from spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others unwittingly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends repeating the test if the results of any at-home antigen test are negative, regardless of whether you have symptoms of COVID-19 or not.
COVID-19 self-tests provide quick results and may be performed anywhere, regardless of immunization status or whether or not you have symptoms. At-home COVID-19 antigen tests detect proteins called antigens from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. This type of test is less likely to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus than molecular diagnostics, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Getting a negative result means the test did not detect the virus but doesn’t rule out an infection. If you get a negative result and have been advised to keep testing for multiple weeks or if your symptoms continue, another antigen test may be in order. If it is weeks later and you have repeated negative results and are symptom-free, then you likely do not have COVID-19 infection. Multiple negative tests strengthen your confidence that you are not infected with the COVID-19 virus.
All at-home COVID-19 antigen tests are currently FDA-approved for repeat or serial use. This suggests that patients should use several tests over a short period of time, such as 2-3 days, especially if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
When consumers get a negative result, the FDA emphasizes the continuous need for repeat, or serial testing, including advising additional testing over a longer period of time.
Even without a prescription, authorized at-home OTC tests are accessible online or from local retailers.
The more times you get a negative COVID-19 test, the more confident you can be that you are not infected. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious about the virus, taking a test may help ease your mind. There are many brands available, such as INDICAID® COVID-19 Antigen At-Home Test, so you can find the one that works best for you.
Make sure to follow all instructions carefully and contact your doctor if there are any questions about your results. Stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times!