Dr David Weber (pictured), an epidemiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill, said that at-home tests distributed by the Biden administration may not be usable for travel requirements
Free home COVID tests funded by Joe Biden will likely not be approved to get around existing travel rules because it is too easy to fake a negative result, a health expert has warned.
Dr David Weber, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told USA Today that using the at-home tests may not be enough to meet some domestic negative testing requirements.
Since the tests are taken at home, a person can easily fake a negative result ahead of travel with no way for health officials to know. Instead of swabbing their nostrils, as requested by the test, they could just dip the stick in the solution to produce a negative result, or just stick it gently up their nose without touching the nasal walls where virus particles sit.
People using the tests having their results rejected would be another setback in what has already been a test rollout plagued with issues.
‘They’re not very trusting – they want to see it done in a lab where they watched you put a swab in your nose,’ Weber said.
‘Nothing prevents you from just opening the kit, picking the swab out and putting it in (your nose) without touching your body surface and then saying ‘See, I have a negative test’ and taking a picture on your phone.’
Since at-home Covid tests are performed without supervision of a professional, it is easy for a person to fake a negative result. Weber says that officials requiring the test for travel will want the test taken in front of them instead of at home (file photo)
Weber told USA Today that some domestic travel, like to Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, could be rejected by health officials if a person uses one of these tests at home.
To meet regulations, officials will want the rapid test to be taken in front of them so they make sure it is done properly, and to confirm the identity of the person taking it.
Rapid, at-home, Covid tests are often the test of choice for people who do not feel sick, but either want or need to be tested before travel.
They are made to be used by asymptomatic people to test for Covid as a prevention measure, and to detect asymptomatic cases that could go unidentified otherwise.
Because of this, people often will use them before travel, or they will be used by schools or sports teams to regularly
A test taken at public testing site could lead to a person waiting in longlines, and they could be exposed to the virus while waiting.
While PCR tests are the most accurate, recent surges in demand for tests have led to the simple two day process of getting the results extend to over a week in some locations.
At-home tests have been of short supply in recent weeks, but the rollout of tests from the federal government – while a little late – was to be relief to people desperate to get a test.
This is not the only issue the Biden administration has faced in the rollout of the free at-home tests.
In December, the surge in demand for tests led to massive shortages and price gouging for at-home tests at some pharmacies.
The Biden administration announced in December that it would deliver tests to U.S. homes free of charge, but not until a month later in late January.
Then it was revealed that each household in the U.S. will only receive four tests each.
The average American family has just over three people, meaning that everyone in the house would only be able to test once – and they were out of luck if they had a larger family.
For comparison, the UK allows for residents to regularly order packs of seven tests for free, while for the U.S. it is only four tests, one time.
Many Americans also live with roommates or in other co-living situations, and often have more than four people in a single household.
Once the tests did become available, many people who live in apartment buildings or other places where multiple units shared the same address reported that only one housing unit could requests tests out of an entire building – which could potentially have hundreds of different families.