While at-home tests for the coronavirus are now available at a lot of retailers here in the United States, the results from the tests that are taken are not usually reported to the government agencies that have been tasked with counting cases and are, as a result, not factored into the official case count, according to a report from USA Today.
At the moment it’s not clear how often the results from home tests are actually being reported to public health agencies, according to this report. Public health officials told the news publication that reporting the cases is vital for them to pick up on trends and to locate hotspots where the COVID-19 virus is spreading, in order to help prepare hospitals for a potential influx of new patients with the illness.
“The whole issue of us tracking every single case is just not going to be possible anymore with these (home) tests,” Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told USA Today. “We need to move to a different approach.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed to the newspaper that it is currently unable to track the results of at-home tests, but the agency did say that it is coordinating with the companies that manufacture these tests to ensure that customers are able to conveniently report their results via an app or website, though a spokesperson did say that “the amount of data that have flowed as a result of these efforts (is) a tiny fraction of all COVID-19 testing data.”
Analysis from a research team led by Arizona State University professor Mara Aspinall found that the U.S. could make up to 141 million antigen home tests by the end of this month, and that number could reach 424 million by the end of next month. That would be greater than the number of PCR tests that doctors, labs, or other medical settings could perform in that same time frame. However, the results in tests performed in medical settings are regularly reported to public health agencies, while Aspinall estimates that only about 10% of home test results are ever reported.
“The vast majority are not reported,” Aspinall went on to say. “We have to be realistic about what we know and what we don’t know.”
Abbott Laboratories, the company behind the most popular COVID-19 home test, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 self-test, said that they did not know what portion of their consumers reported the results of their tests.advertisement — content continues below
“The ability for people to more easily self-report BinaxNow test results will allow communities as well as organizations, such as schools and workplaces using self-tests, to quickly detect rising COVID-19 cases or potential outbreaks enabling fast and informed decisions on safety measures,” a spokeswoman for the company stated during a chat with USA Today.
What this means is that the number of cases we’re being told about is probably not accurate. Which, to be fair, it’s not really been since the very beginning, right?
You know, with local hospitals and state agencies fudging the numbers to make things look worse than they really are and all.