The Food and Drug Administration recently released preliminary research showing that current at-home tests on the market can detect the omicron COVID variant.

The FDA regularly studies such testing kits whenever a new variant of a disease is detected. While they will conduct more in-depth research on this specific variant and its testing effectiveness, doctors are saying that omicron is detectable with the tests, though tests seem to have reduced sensitivity to omicron versus previous strains of the coronavirus.

“The bottom line is the tests still detect COVID, whether it is delta or alpha or omicron,” said Dr. Emily Volk, chief medical officer for the Kentucky-based Baptist Health Floyd who late last year became the 37th president of the College of American Pathologists. 

A former South Texan, having been a senior vice president and assistant professor of pathology at San Antonio’s University of Texas Health Long School of Medicine, Dr. Volk noted that at-home testing is an important component when it comes to controlling the virus’ spread.

Take, for instance, someone who has been exposed to another person with COVID but thus far remains asymptomatic. At-home rapid testing could easily determine if that person is possibly infected and/or a possible carrier of the illness capable of passing it to others. 

The tests can also help people distinguish COVID from the common a cold, the flu or other ailments with similar symptoms.

Volk said people should also use a little common sense when testing.

“If you feel sick after going out and about in a high-risk area but get a negative test, you should be a little skeptical,” she said.

Following the home tests up with a test at the hospital is always a good idea, she added. It may take a bit longer to get results, but the hospital’s test will be more accurate every time.

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