A new FDA Safety Communication is advising people to perform repeat, or serial testing after a negative result from an at-home COVID-19 antigen test, regardless of whether they’re actually experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The recommendation is based on the latest study results from people with likely Omicron infection showing that repeat testing after a negative at-home COVID-19 antigen test result increases the chance of an accurate result, the agency explains.
Specifically, people who test negative should test again in 48 hours if they have COVID-19 symptoms. If the second test comes back negative but they’re still concerned, they can test themselves a third time after 48 hours or consider getting a PCR test or calling their healthcare provider.
Those who test negative with an antigen test who aren’t experiencing symptoms but still think they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 should retest 48 hours after the first negative test and, if that test is negative, do a third test 48 hours after that, for a total of three tests, the FDA advises. If concerns remain after a third negative test result, the options are to do a fourth antigen test 48 hours later, get a PCR test, or call a healthcare provider.
In all cases, any positive antigen test result should be taken as accurate and people should conclude that they do actually have COVID-19 and follow current public health protocols.