At-home COVID-19 tests could impact accuracy of case numbers, Valley doctor says

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- By now, many of us have grown accustomed to the accessibility of at-home COVID-19 tests. But while convenient, these tests could impact the true accuracy of case counts.

Dr. Kenny Banh with UCSF Fresno is concerned that the underreporting of positive results from at-home kits could skew the numbers.

"The availability of at-home tests has increased and that's a wonderful thing. Don't say that it's bad, but the problem is that people are getting positive tests and not necessarily reporting it, not necessarily coming and getting a PCR test. You have a phone number to call and very few people are doing that," Dr. Banh said.

The PCR test is the most accurate. Medical professionals warn at-home kits have their benefits but have been known to produce false-negatives and false-positive results.

"No test is perfect but they can miss up to a a third of the cases. So you may have COVID and if you keep getting negative rapids, you should probably come in and get the PCR. It's a significantly more sensitive test," Dr. Banh explained.

While most COVID restrictions have lifted and case numbers as well, as hospitalizations remain relatively low in Central California, many residents say they're cautious.

"It keeps spreading and the reactions may not be as severe because of the number of people who are vaccinated, but I still believe we have to be careful," said Fresno resident Carolyn Okamoto.

Dr. Banh agrees and is also reminding the public about taking the necessary precautions -- just as two new variants have been reported in California.

"I'm actually afraid. I think we will have a big rise in the summer with our numbers with obviously the biggest at risk are at-risk patients. People who have put their guard down when no one is paying attention with their masks off and everyone is together."
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