Infectious Disease

Americans visiting family on vacation should consider home testing, experts say

November 23, 2021

3 minutes read

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Adalja and Schaffner do not report any relevant financial information.

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As William Schaffner, MD, As he and his family prepare for the upcoming holidays, he and his family are taking all reasonable COVID-19 precautions, including pre- and post-travel tests and retests.

William Schaffner

“When we focus on the holidays, it’s about bringing families together. We want to protect each other, and I am especially concerned when there are older people who have underlying illnesses, if they are at any age that could put them at serious risk of COVID-19. Planning ahead is a good idea, ”Schaffner told Healio.

Source: Adobe Stock.

Experts agree that home testing for COVID-19 is a crucial part of staying safe this holiday season. Source: Adobe Stock.

“First of all, we should ask ourselves,” says Schaffner, “who is coming together? Who are the most fragile people? And who are the supposedly healthy people? Are these people who have otherwise been cautious? “

Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a member of the editorial board of Infectious Disease News, has a family from outside the US, from Europe, as well as a mix of family members who are in college or have serious illnesses. He said that while his guest from Europe was fully vaccinated, he still needs to be tested before boarding a plane to the US, but the precautions don’t stop there.

“Their plan is that as soon as they get here they want to do a quick test that comes back negative again before interacting with the family,” said Schaffner. “As you can see, we are very, very careful. We want to double-check that we don’t endanger each other. “

Checkups may not be taken that seriously in other households this holiday season, and there are still barriers to testing for those looking to test themselves. In fact, experts said the US is falling short in this area of ​​the pandemic response.

“Home tests are very suboptimal in the USA” Amesh A. Adalja, MD, an infectious disease, bioterrorism and emergency medicine specialist and senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Healio. “This was something that was slowly emerging – and rejected by some – and still strictly regulated and therefore more expensive than it should be.”

As of March 2020, the FDA has approved hundreds of COVID-19 tests and kits, including over-the-counter rapid home tests. Although the FDA was unable to provide information on how many tests are done at home, it told Healio that two tests could be more widely available by early 2022.

According to the FDA, two of the most recent emergency OTC home test approvals for testing from ACON Laboratories and iHealth Labs could result in up to 400 million more OTC home tests becoming available monthly by early 2022.

In its guidelines for the holidays, the CDC suggests that people consider taking a test as an extra precaution before meeting with a group of people from multiple households or different parts of the county, but it doesn’t give any details or specific beyond that Recommendations.

Additional guidance might be needed to ensure proper testing, Adalja said.

“The question is not whether the US is testing enough, but is it testing intelligently?” Said Adalja.

He explained that rapid tests are useful in determining if someone is contagious and should be used by unvaccinated people in particular.

“This is something we should have done from the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.

More testing is better than fewer testing, and anyone who travels should do home testing to keep everyone safe, experts said.

Amesh A. Adalja

“The value of home testing for me is twofold,” said Adalja. “Home tests can be a first test for people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and they can also be used to screen asymptomatic people – mainly those who are not vaccinated – for contagion so that they know their status and him can use activities as a guide. “

Schaffner said everyone should not only think about who is sitting at their dining table and living room, but also who could be sitting next to them on the train or plane.

“We can’t test our way out of COVID-19, but testing along with vaccinations, masking and social distancing that summarize all of these things can really help us all reduce the risk of transmission,” said Schaffner. “If you meet with older family members or with underlying medical conditions, that would be the circumstance in which I would certainly be tested.”

References:

CDC. COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/celebrations.html. Accessed November 17, 2021.

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