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People Exposed to COVID-19 Must Take 3 Home Tests – NBC New York (47)

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If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should take three home tests instead of two to make sure you’re not infected, according to new US recommendations released Thursday.

Until now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had advised performing two rapid antigen tests in two to three days to rule out infection.

However, the agency says new studies suggest that protocol may miss too many infections, and could lead to people passing the coronavirus to others, especially if they don’t develop symptoms.

The new guidelines apply to people without symptoms who believe they have been exposed. People with symptoms can continue to take two tests 48 hours apart.

Thursday’s update reflects the evolution of the accuracy of antigen tests, which are less sensitive than laboratory tests but have become the standard testing method due to their speed and convenience. Instead of detecting the virus itself, they detect trace proteins, known as antigens, similar to rapid flu tests.

Health authorities have warned on several occasions that the tests can give false negatives if they are carried out too soon. The CDC recommends that people without symptoms wait five days after exposure. This is because it usually takes several days for antigens to reach detectable levels by nasal swab testing.

It is important to follow the test manufacturer’s recommendations regarding storage, as the result may be affected.

The 22 home antigen tests marketed in the US were authorized for emergency use based on preliminary data, while companies and researchers gathered more definitive data on their accuracy.

The FDA said its latest decision reflects new information about the accuracy of antigen tests. In a government study, the addition of a third test improved accuracy from 62% to 79%.

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