Some health experts say free at-home COVID tests are too little, too late

All the at-home tests sent out will be antigen tests, similar to the ones sold at retail stores.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The federal government did a soft launch of its new website where people can order free at-home COVID tests.

But some health experts say it's too little, too late.

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"I think we missed the boat," said Doctor Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF.

Dr. Gandhi says, while she supports people using the tests, they would have been more helpful the government had been issuing them before the omicron surge.

"If the tests are coming right now, that simply isn't enough time. If we had it before, we could have helped our schools stay open for example," Gandhi said.

All the at-home tests sent out will be antigen tests, similar to the ones sold at retail stores.

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"Those tests are best used to quote, test out early from isolation. So if you already know you have COVID, and you're just wondering when am I no longer infectious," said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer, Doctor Sara Cody.

Dr. Cody says these types of tests are becoming more common, and are good for most people looking to be tested.

"The other test, the PCR test, is so good at picking up virus, even little pieces of dead virus, that it's going to test long after you're infectious to others," she said.

Those ordering tests through the new site will be capped at four tests per residence, regardless of the amount of people living there.

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Dr. Gandhi says she worries it's not enough.

"You need repeated tests to figure out when you're infectious or not," Gandhi said.

The Biden administration initially announced it had purchased 500 million tests for the new program, but recently said it planned to buy one billion in order to meet demand.

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