By Crystal Bui
ATLANTA (WGCL) — Atlantans are turning to at-home covid-19 testing kits at a rapid rate. But actually finding one is nearly impossible. Stores across the metro are having trouble keeping up with demand, and the rise in cases has people rushing to stock up.
It comes as the US is reporting an average of 113,000 new covid-19 cases per day. That’s up 400% in the last month. The Delta variant is driving the surge.
“These are a hot commodity right now,” said Ira Katz, pharmacist at Little 5 Points Pharmacy. “If I had several dozen, I’d probably sell those within a one-day period.”
Children are back in school, and with more cases announced within classrooms, parents are rushing to have these at-home tests on standby.
“The instructions for use have to be followed very, very accurately and to a t- for you to get the most optimal performance for these tests,” said Dr. Wilbur Lam, physician at Children’s Healthcare Atlanta and biomedical engineer.
Some tests are suitable for kids as young as two years old, and has an adapter that makes it easier to use on children. The results of the rapid-antigen tests appear in as little as 15 minutes.
“Once the Delta variant really picked up steam, we’re now seeing that the demand of these tests increasing significantly,” said Lam.
So the demand is there, but what about the accuracy? That’s where Lam comes in. His team in Atlanta tests the accuracy of these at-home kits.
“We have an entire crew that is spending day and night constantly testing tests like these,” said Lam.
The FDA uses the research submitted by Lam’s team to decide which tests get emergency use authorization. Lam says the tests given the green light all fall within about a 90-percent accuracy rate for positive cases.
“Not 100 percent. But certainly high enough to be useful for the public to be using it at home,” said Lam.
They’re good odds, but not as great as the original PCR tests given by healthcare providers.
However, taking the test from anywhere means there is the convenience of testing any time, and, multiple times.
The over-the-counter tests run, on average, between 30- to 50- dollars per box.
“Testing is a big part of our battle against the pandemic,” said Lam. “Obviously in conjunction with the vaccinations to really stem the tide of this pandemic.”
Lam’s team is next working to determine what age a child can be to self-test and still get accurate results.
The state’s health department is also ramping up covid-19 testing for Georgians. The results can come in 2 to 3 days.
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