"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Home tests detect the brand new COVID variant, but may take longer

January 23, 2024 – You have the symptoms, but your test for COVID-19 will not be positive. You're not alone.

JN.1, the now dominant variant, which nearly accounts for 86% of all circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains, it could take longer to point out a positive result Home antigen tests.

Some infectious disease doctors and patients have reported that tests taken days after symptoms appeared got here back negative after which got here back positive just a few days later.

It sparked unease concerning the value of the tests. “Can the home tests detect JN.1?” tweeted one user on X, formerly often known as Twitter, echoing the concerns of others on social media.

Before infectious disease experts accuse the tests of declining effectiveness – or the variant of being too smart to be detected – they provide one other explanation: our immune system, which is smarter than it was in 2020. They also point to a Study published in September It was found that many patients only receive a positive test 4 days after infection.

“Our immune systems are getting stronger,” said Peter Chin-Hong, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor of drugs on the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. As the pandemic continues and far of the population has received natural infections, vaccinations or each, “we are being made aware earlier that the enemy is in the body. It is more related to time than to the variant,” he said.

This means we may now contract COVID ahead of we did firstly of the pandemic.

In March 2020, everyone was immunologically naive, he said, and “it took some time for the body to recognize the virus.” Now even a small viral infection can trigger an alarm from the immune system and quickly show symptoms. Nowadays, he said, “you may feel sick as early as day zero, rather than day 5.” However, should you test inside the first few days, the virus concentration might not be very high, making the house test less accurate than the less available PCR tests, is unlikely to be positive.

But Chin-Hong says he doesn't think future variants will extend that lag time much further.

“New normal” isn’t entirely latest

These “delayed positives,” as others call them, have occurred with other variants. As the population has grow to be immune through natural infection, vaccination, or each, viral loads peak later, explaining the lag time that may occur in home test results, the journal's September report said Clinical infectious diseases.

“In our study, we observed that in a highly immune adult population (91% had a history of vaccination, natural infection, or both), the levels of viral RNA and antigen in nasal swab samples were highest around the fourth day of symptoms,” the researcher said Nira Pollock, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology and medicine at Harvard Medical School.

For this reason, the sensitivity of home testing is anticipated to be highest across the fourth day of symptoms, although many individuals with symptoms may test positive earlier.

In the study, Pollock and her colleagues evaluated nasal swab samples from 348 individuals who had tested positive for COVID through PCR testing, measured the concentrations within the sample, after which estimated the expected sensitivity to home testing. The testing was conducted from April 2022 to April 2023, long before the JN.1 variant was first discovered within the United States September 2023.

Dealing with the “new normal”

How do I cope with the delay time?

The CDC recommends getting tested immediately if you've gotten symptoms. If a house test is negative, repeat the test after 48 hours or have a PCR test done. It is really helpful to attend 5 days after exposure to check if you've gotten no symptoms, after which either test again at home inside 48 hours in case your first test was negative, or take a PCR test. Anyone who doesn't receive the PCR should repeat the house antigen test a 3rd time after one other 48 hours. However, take into account that PCR tests are carried out in a laboratory are not any longer free.

Research shouldn't discourage testing, Pollock said.

“People should continue to get tested as soon as they have symptoms,” she said. If they test positive, that information could be very vital for treatment and other decisions, she said. The key's that individuals have to know that one test will not be enough. However, she acknowledged that retesting could be each difficult and dear.

Chin-Hong said testing decisions are personal and will depend upon an individual's access to testing. “If you've gotten limited testing, I probably wouldn’t look immediately [after symptoms occur] but wait and wear a mask.” However, he acknowledged that some, including older adults and people with weakened immune systems, should want to test earlier and more actually because they need to know their status sooner somewhat than later.