Are At-Home COVID-19 Tests Accurate?

Alexis Bryan
Alexis Bryan23 Apr 2024
Reviewed and Fact Checked ✔️

At-home COVID-19 tests, called rapid antigen tests, are a quick, convenient way to test yourself for COVID-19. However, these tests are not perfect. At-home COVID-19 tests detect about 85% of positive cases on average.

At-home testing can help you determine if your symptoms are COVID-19, the flu, or just a cold. If you are feeling sick, and want to seek additional care, a membership with Mira can help you access affordable urgent care services for as low as $25 per month!

Accuracy of At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Each at-home COVID-19 test is slightly different, but most of them are estimated to correctly identify between 73.0% and 98.9% of COVID-19 cases. This percentage refers to the sensitivity of the test, which is the chance that the test will detect someone who is positive with COVID-19. At-home COVID-19 tests are more sensitive in people with symptoms within the first few days of symptom onset, as this is when the viral load is highest.

In comparison to laboratory-based molecular tests, at-home COVID-19 tests have a higher chance of false-negative results, meaning the test reads negative when you have COVID-19. If your first test is negative, it is recommended to test again in 24-48 hours to rule out the possibility of a false negative when you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.

If the second test is still negative, you may not be infected, but if you are at high risk, have been exposed, or are still experiencing symptoms, you should talk to your healthcare provider about getting a laboratory test.

In summary, a positive result is highly accurate, meaning if you test positive, you most likely have COVID-19. However, one negative test result does not necessarily rule out COVID-19 infection.

Below we outline the sensitivity of many at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests with higher sensitivities are preferable, as they are more likely to detect infection with COVID-19. The tests with the highest sensitivities are Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test, Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, and iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test. 

Comparison of At-Home COVID-19 Test Accuracy

Name of TestSensitivity
Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 Antigen Self Test84.6%
Access Bio CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test87%
Acon Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test93%
BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test (app required)84.6%
Ellume COVID-19 Home Test (app required)95%
iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test94.3%
Intrivo On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test (made by Access Bio)87%
OraSure InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test84%
Quidel QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test84.8%
Detect (app required, PCR test)90.9%
Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test (app required, PCR test)94.1%

Source: NY Times

Health Image

Get affordable doctor copay without paying insurance premiums

Join 39,000 people and get Mira, the best alternative to traditional insurance. Enroll and use immediately. Plans start at only $45/mo.

Alexis Bryan

Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.

Get Health BenefitsGet Lab TestsTalk Therapy
Get ObamaCare
> See Plans