How to Do a Rapid At-Home Covid-19 Test

Rapid home Covid-19 tests promise convenience and speed: You buy a Covid-19 test kit from the drugstore, bring it home, swab yourself and get results in about 15 minutes.

But the tests aren’t as accurate if you don’t collect the sample correctly. And an increase in demand has led to shortages in some places. Here’s a guide to doing the tests, and everything else you need to know about at-home tests.

How much do at-home Covid-19 tests cost?

The BinaxNOW test, made by Abbott Laboratories, is the most widely available and commonly used over-the-counter rapid antigen test. It typically costs $14 to $24 for a two-pack.

Other rapid tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test (roughly $26 to $39 from drugstores for one test) and the QuickVue test made by Quidel, selling for about $24 or $25 at pharmacies for a two-pack.

How do I use a rapid test at home?

Here is an illustrated overview of the BinaxNOW test. To ensure an accurate result, users should consult and follow each manufacturer’s instructions for detailed guidance.

Are at-home Covid-19 tests accurate?

Rapid at-home tests are most reliable in people who have symptoms, researchers say. They are less sensitive than PCR tests and don’t pick up as many asymptomatic or presymptomatic cases. Rapid home tests work the same way as rapid tests performed at a medical center, but home tests can be slightly less accurate because laypeople are more likely to do the test incorrectly.

The BinaxNOW kit recommends that the test be taken twice over three days, with at least 36 hours between tests. QuickVue recommends testing twice over two to three days, with at least 24 hours—and no more than 36 hours—between tests.

Where can I buy at-home rapid Covid-19 tests?

They are sold at retailers including drugstores and online, but many places are currently sold out as the tests have increased in popularity.

Write to Sumathi Reddy at

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8