KING 5: Washington Rep. Kim Schrier pushing for rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests

February 2, 2021 — U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier said providing rapid, at-home COVID-19 test kits to Americans would be another “tool in our toolbox” to help keep the virus from spreading.

SEATTLE — There are calls at the federal level to provide the public with rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests. Democratic Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08) is pushing for their availability and said the rapid tests could help businesses and schools reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 vaccines slowly roll out across the U.S., Schrier said providing rapid, at-home test kits to Americans would be another “tool in our toolbox” to help keep the virus from spreading.

“If you overlay [rapid] testing with masks, with vaccinations, imagine how safe everything out there would be,” said Schrier.

Schrier is a career pediatrician in Issaquah and joined KING 5 Mornings Monday to show how the rapid tests can be done “at home super easily.”

Each home test comes with a nasal swab, a container of solution, and a testing strip. With government help, Schrier said the rapid testing strips would cost about 70 cents each.

To perform the test, take the swab out of the packaging and swirl it inside your nose 10 times. Then, take the end of the swab that was inside your nostril and place it into the solution, swirling it around. After that, put a drop or two of the solution on the testing strip and wait around 30 minutes for the results.

The testing strip will show one red line after adding the solution, which is the control. If the test detects the virus, Schrier said a second blue line would also appear on the testing strip.

The U.S. reports about 2 million tests per day, the vast majority of which are the slower PCR variety. The PCR tests became the standard at U.S. hospitals and testing sites and the benchmark for accuracy at the FDA. However, they need to be taken to a lab and usually take at least 24 hours to get results.

So how accurate are the rapid tests compared to the slower PCR tests?

Schrier said the rapid COVID-19 test she demonstrated on KING 5 Mornings is 87% accurate within 24 hours and 99% accurate within 48 hours.

“That means, by the time you would get your PCR test back, you’ve got 99% accuracy with this [rapid test],” explained Schrier. “That’s why a lot of places like colleges are not even bothering to do the PCRs anymore. They are switching over entirely to these, and what they’re seeing is a rapid drop of their number of [COVID-19] cases spreading in their universities.”

Earlier this month, the White House said President Joe Biden is using the Defense Production Act to help bolster vaccine production, at-home coronavirus testing kits and surgical gloves.

Tim Manning, the White House’s COVID-19 supply coordinator, said the U.S. is also investing in six manufacturers to develop at-home and point-of-care tests for the coronavirus, with the goal of producing 60 million tests by the end of the summer.