The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States and the world. To slow down the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing often, especially if you’ve recently been in contact with people who have symptoms or test positive.
When it comes to at-home testing, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test is one of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests under emergency use authorization (EUA).
You can use this test whether you have symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, the manufacturers advise you to take the test twice in 3 days.
Here’s what you need to know about this test kit, safety precautions, price, and more.
The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is an FDA-authorized at-home test kit for detecting active infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in people with and without symptoms.
According to the company, this test kit can screen for many SARS-CoV-2 strains, including the Delta and Omicron variants.
The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is a rapid test that uses a shallow nasal swab sample to check for the presence or absence of proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19.
Here’s how it works:
- Inside your box, you’ll find two test kits, each containing a swab, a test card in a pouch, and a dropper bottle.
- Follow the instructions that come with the kit to take your sample.
- Wait at least 15 minutes but not longer than 30 to read your results.
- If your result is negative and you don’t have any symptoms, you can test twice over the course of 3 days. Make sure that you wait at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48 hours between tests. If you have symptoms, you only need to take one test.
Healthline senior associate Sydney Hanan tested out the BinaxNOW COVID-19 kit and found it to be fairly similar to other at-home testing kits that are available.
“It came with pretty much everything I needed to take the two tests, including two test cards, two dropper bottles, two swabs, and an instruction sheet,” she said. “The only thing I needed to provide myself was a time, which was easy enough to do on my phone.”
Sydney noted that she’s taken different types of at-home COVID-19 tests and that BinaxNOW was straightforward and easy.
“[It] takes about 20 minutes in total (5 to perform the test, and 15 to get the results),” she said.
According to the CDC, if your results are positive, you can trust the accuracy of an at-home COVID-19 test kit. This includes the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test.
However, you may not be able to rely on this test kit (or similar at-home options) if your results show negative. You might still have COVID-19, especially if you’re showing COVID-19 symptoms.
The manufacturers recommend testing again after 24 to 48 hours to confirm your results. If it still shows negative despite your symptoms, it’s best to consult your doctor.
If you see an invalid result, the test didn’t work, and you’ll need to take another test.
The FDA highlighted a study that found that the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test kit was 91.7% accurate at detecting positive cases and 100% reliable at finding negative cases.
That being said, the FDA also stated that because the study was small, it estimates that the kit can correctly identify 73% to 98.9% of positive cases.
Another study that tested people who had been showing COVID-19 symptoms for at least 7 days saw that the kit was 84.6% accurate at correctly identifying a person with COVID-19. It was also 98.5% accurate at detecting a person without COVID-19.
Other studies suggest that you can rely on the kit to detect the Omicron and Delta variants, and other variants of concern (VOC).
Before taking your sample
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Your box will contain two test kits; take out one. You’ll find a swab, a test card, and a dropper bottle.
- Take the card from its pouch and check if it has the blue control line. Don’t use it if it doesn’t have the blue control line. Open the card and let it stay flat on a table.
- Pour 6 drops of the liquid from the dropper bottle into the top hole on the card. Don’t let the tip of the bottle touch the card.
Taking your sample
- Insert the soft end of the swab about halfway into a nostril. Press the swab against the walls of your nostrils and create five big circles with the swab in your nostril.
- Repeat for the other nostril.
Taking the test
- Insert the tip of the swab into the lower hole on the card and push it in till you can see it from the top hole.
- Turn the swab to the right three times so it can mix with the drops. Leave the swab in that spot.
- Peel the sticky liner off, then close the left side of the card to cover the swab. Seal the card.
- Wait 15 minutes to see your results. Don’t check your results until after 15 minutes but don’t wait longer than 30 minutes.
Interpreting your results
- Check the result window on the card and look for pink or purple lines.
- If you find two pink or purple lines, your test result is positive for COVID-19.
- Your test result is negative if you find a single pink or purple line.
- If no line shows up, a blue line appears, a blue and pink or purple line appears, then your result is invalid, and you have to take another test.
BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is a product of Abbott Laboratories, an internationally recognized healthcare technology company.
However, Abbott Laboratories is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau and currently has a rating o 1.06 out of 5 stars. In the past year, the company has closed 65 complaints. Most complaints are about products other than the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test, but some note that the company’s customer service is poor.
The test kit is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from 10,540 global ratings on Amazon. Most of the reviews were positive, noting that the kit was easy to use and worked well for detecting COVID-19.
A few complained about the box’s contents. Some said that the box came with only one kit instead of two. Another mentioned that the box’s seal had already broken on arrival.
You can get the BinaxNOW COVID-19 test at retailers like:
Can someone get a false-positive COVID-19 result with the BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen test?
According to the FDA, you can get a negative result even when you have COVID-19 (this is called a false negative). Still, the company doesn’t mention the possibility of getting a false-positive result. Although there aren’t any reported false-positive cases with this test kit, it’s still something that you should be aware of.
How accurate are rapid COVID-19 tests?
A 2021 study observed that rapid COVID-19 tests detected infection with SARS-CoV-2 in 72% of people with symptoms and 58% without symptoms.
Does insurance cover BinaxNOW test kits?
As of early 2022, people with a health plan or health insurance can get any FDA-authorized at-home test for free or be reimbursed for paying for the at-home test. You can contact your provider for more information.
Who can use this test kit?
People 15 years and older, vaccinated or unvaccinated, with or without COVID-19 symptoms, can take this test. But if you’re without symptoms and your results show negative, take another test in 24 to 48 hours.
An adult can administer the test for children 2 years or older.
At-home rapid COVID-19 test kits are quick, cost-effective ways of testing to see whether you have COVID-19. You can also take these tests wherever you are and get your results in minutes.
The BinaxNOW COVID-19 test is an FDA-authorized COVID-19 test kit under a EUA that can detect whether you have the virus. Your results will be available within 15 to 30 minutes.
While this test kit is FDA-authorized, it isn’t 100% accurate and can still reflect false or inconclusive results. You can consult your doctor or take an in-person PCR test for more accurate results.
Frances Gatta is a freelance healthcare writer with experience writing on general health, women’s health, healthcare technology, mental health, and personalized nutrition. You can connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.