Reducing COVID-19 Transmission With Home-based Testing

A discussion on the pros and cons of frequent, rapid testing in the community.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still raging through the world, many control strategies such as social-distancing, mask wearing, and lockdowns have been implemented to try to flatten the curve and halt the transmission of the virus.

However, one measure that could be of critical significance has often been overlooked.

In a discussion surrounding rapid, frequent homebased testing, Paul Sax, the Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, talks about how this strategy could reduce transmission throughout the community and why it has not been used.

“One problem is the regulatory barriers in getting the test approved. Rapid home testing is something that is technically feasible and has been available for a while,” Sax said. “But because they don’t have the test sensitivity of PCR, they’re not in wide spread use.”

In talking about the benefits of home-based testing, Sax said “Well, first they’re much cheaper. The other critically important feature of these tests is that they return results right away…The primary benefit is that were identifying contagious people who right now otherwise don’t know that they have COVID-19.”