Most current protocol for covid test? (YANM Epidemiologist..or whoever..
August 14, 2022 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting conflicting information on the latest covid test.

My sister thinks a minimum of five days unless you are symptomatic (she's the one that exposed me, blessherheart). I read both three to five days, and then also five days in order to not get a false negative. CDC seems in the middle of updating guidance. I have a test scheduled for this afternoon but will call in tomorrow if I really need to have the full five days. I just finished scheduling for Monday and will cancel today's test if needed.

Yes, it's inconvenient when I call in. It's more inconvenient when people get infected.

Does anyone know if it can be three to five days after exposure, or a solid five days?
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm getting the drive though as my MD told me the home tests are about 30% reliable and you need to take 3 of them, days apart.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 11:01 AM on August 14, 2022

You might find this thread and Michael Mina’s work in general helpful.
posted by shadygrove at 11:11 AM on August 14, 2022

Best answer: CDC says at least five days, if that’s what you’re going by.
posted by obfuscation at 11:12 AM on August 14, 2022

Also, what are you testing for? Return from isolation? If so, an antigen test will tell you if you’re infectious.
posted by shadygrove at 11:13 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also are you talking about calling in to work because you won’t be able to take a test otherwise? Because the CDC says you no longer need to quarantine for an exposure when you’re not sick, so you are (technically) allowed to go to work as long as you can wear a high quality mask. They JUST updated guidelines, so I doubt they’re “in the middle of” updating them again.
posted by obfuscation at 11:17 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm getting the drive though as my MD told me the home tests are about 30% reliable and you need to take 3 of them, days apart.

Your doctor is somewhat misinformed. RATs are 90%+ sensitive when you are most infectious, somewhat less early or late in your infection. It is, however, a good idea to take multiple RATs on consecutive days or every second day. Also a good idea to swab both inside your nose and inside your mouth, for the highest likelihood of catching an infection.

I think the argument that using a sequence of RATs on multiple days is better than a PCR test is pretty compelling.
posted by ssg at 11:23 AM on August 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: * If you have no symptoms and never get any during the five days, then you are supposed to do one at five days. Technically no longer have to quarantine but I'd wear a mask around other people if I were you.
* If/when you start getting symptoms, you should probably reasonably assume you got it and act accordingly no matter what your test results are for the next week.
* It may take you up to 3 days to start testing positive on a home test after you get symptoms (was the experience of people I know), so you probably can't trust a negative result with symptoms unless you've been testing over several days and keep getting negatives for days on end.
* Get a PCR if you can. Rapid tests at home are where they are saying negative tests aren't accurate for several days.

This is the rundown NPR did on what the agencies said.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:26 AM on August 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

If it's helpful in the longer term, the FDA just dropped new guidelines for rapid tests, which address testing frequency (though not timing of the first test).
posted by toastedcheese at 1:41 PM on August 14, 2022

My job, in healthcare working with patients, says for higher-risk exposure and no symptoms: "You may continue to work with surveillance testing as follows: test on day 1, 2 and 3 following exposure (PCR preferred, but antigen testing is acceptable) AND test once between days 5-7 (PCR only)."
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2022

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