it gets a some week since the federal government started sending out free Covid-19 test kits promised by the Biden administration and it’s finally become easier to find rapid tests in stores. But even with Omicron’s rise in decline, the pandemic isn’t over. Concerns remain about Omicron’s sisterand a new variation can always come. So what is the most efficient way to use free government tests? Whether you are vaccinated, immunized, unvaccinated or recovered, when should you be tested for Covid-19 and how should you interpret the findings?
Like so much advice and data during the pandemic, it’s complicated. When you should get tested and what the results mean – or don’t mean – depends on your individual circumstances. “You can’t just have one rule that applies to everyone because there are differences all around,” says Esther Babady, clinical microbiology service lead at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. test results. “We like to make recommendations with data, and the frustrating thing with the pandemic is that you don’t have enough time to gather the amount of data we’re used to before we can say anything. .”
And what we talk about today may be a few weeks different than it is now, says Susan Butler-Wu, director of clinical microbiology and an associate professor of clinical pathology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. shown.
“The calculus changes at various points during the pandemic,” Butler-Wu said. When the Omicron rate is soaring, going to a bar or restaurant can practically guarantee that you’re there with someone who has Covid-19 and doesn’t know it. However, she added, most people aren’t home full-time anymore and aren’t likely to wear masks around their families because they’ve gone to bars. We also have to consider what is realistic,” she said.
We’ll start with some obvious situations when you should definitely check. Most of this advice focuses on rapid antigen tests, but we’ll also note when to consider PCR testing and why.
Check if you have symptoms
If you have Covid-19 symptoms, get yourself tested regardless of your vaccination status or Covid-19 history. You don’t need to get tested for every headache, but a fever, cough, stuffy or runny nose should definitely warrant testing. Winter can be frustrating when the flu, cold and other viruses are circulating, not to mention the allergies that will hit many people as spring approaches. But if you relieve a sore throat or sniffle or cough and don’t get tested, especially if you don’t wear a mask around other people, you run the risk of infecting someone’s grandmother or child or father or… you get the idea. Even if vaccination rates are high in your area, lots of people get vaccinated, boosted compromised immunity or high risk. Revealing them can kill them. So if you have symptoms, be a good person and get checked.
Check if you will travel
If you are flying internationalcheck request of destination country—You may need to show a negative test result, even if you have been vaccinated. If you are flying into the United States, you must show a negative test result or proof of recent Covid-19 recovery, regardless of your vaccinations or citizenship status. Even if you are traveling within the United States, CDC suggestion that anyone who is not fully up to date on their Covid-19 immunizations (including boosters) must be tested before leaving.
Check to see if you’re around someone particularly vulnerable
Many people have returned to normal or near-normal lives — visiting restaurants, bars and cafes, going to the movies, hanging out with friends, etc. — but Millions of people have compromised immune systems individuals still have to be more careful. Some do not make enough antibodies in response to the vaccine. Others may have antibodies, but their immune systems are too weak to fight off the breakout infection effectively.
If you are living a normal life, especially without wearing a mask or taking other precautions, you should check before visiting anyone at particularly high risk, even if you are not. have symptoms. People at high risk include organ transplant recipients, people undergoing active cancer treatment or living with blood cancer, people with weakened immune systems or taking suppressive medications. immune systems, the elderly, and anyone with serious underlying medical conditions that, even if vaccinated, puts them at high risk for sudden infections. If you have any symptoms or think you’ve been exposed and you can’t delay getting tested, consider PCR testing, says Babady.
“If the person I’m about to meet doesn’t have a normal immune system or they’re even vaccinated, I’d like to use the most sensitive test possible to make sure I don’t expose the person.” Babady said.
Check when you feel recovered from Covid-19
If you have been taking Covid-19 but your symptoms have subsided, check to confirm that you are indeed not taking Covid-19. PCR tests can still be positive days or sometimes weeks after you’re no longer contagious, but a negative rapid antigen test means it’s less likely that you’re still contagious. Your school or agency may also require a negative test result.
Also keep in mind that, regardless of CDC recommendations, there’s a good chance you’ll still be infected more than five days after your initial positive test result, another reason to test before re-entering the world. ResearchFor example, it was found that half of people infected with Omicron still had a high viral load on day 5, indicating that they are still contagious.
What if I am exposed?
If you know you have been exposed, get tested five days after exposure. What you do during those five days depends on your vaccination and infection history.
If you are unvaccinated or vaccinated but not boosted and you have not had a Covid-19 shot in the past three months, you should Isolation Stay home for those five days and wear a high-quality mask around family members — an N95, KN95, KF94, or similar mask that fits well. If you must leave the house, wear the best mask you can find and make sure it fits. And stay away from others.