Experts offer tips on taking COVID rapid tests

May 20, 2022 – Americans are now able to order a third round of free rapid COVID-19 tests by mail from the government. They can also go to stores to get the tests, which are supposed to be covered by insurance.

Amid rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, experts have been urging people to take advantage of the tests and have offered advice on how to use them most effectively.

Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted that it might be wise in some cases to take multiple rapid tests. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, “you should rapid test,” she said in a May 18, 2022 Boston Globe article. “And if you’re negative, you should test again the next day.” If a second test is negative and you still have symptoms, Kanki recommended continuing to take rapid tests or considering a PCR test.

In a May 6 WGBH story, Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that he finds rapid tests most useful if he’s planning to visit someone at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications, if he has symptoms like a cough, or if he’s been exposed to someone who had COVID-19.

“The nice thing about rapid antigen tests is that they tell me within minutes a very good picture of whether or not I am a risk of infection to people around me,” he said. “And to me, that’s hugely valuable.”

Read the Boston Globe article: The government’s giving away more rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests. Here’s what you need to know.

Read or listen to the GBH News article: You can now get free rapid COVID tests at a pharmacy by showing your insurance card