As winter begins and the holidays are in full swing, the COVID-19 pandemic has entered another worrying phase. Emergence of the omicron variant, along with increasing rates of infections, have left many people unsure about their holiday plans.
On Dec. 2, 2021, President Joe Biden outlined a series of actions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including making at-home COVID-19 rapid tests eligible for reimbursement by private insurance. Along with vaccination, testing remains one of the most effective ways to track and reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Even though COVID-19 testing has become part of most people’s everyday conversation, many people still have questions about the difference between antigen and PCR tests, including when and how to use them.
I’m a molecular biologist based at UMass Chan Medical School. Since April 2020, I’ve been part of a team working on a National Institutes of Health-funded program called RADx Tech to help companies develop rapid tests to detect when a person is infected with COVID-19.