GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Finding out if you have Covid-19 can take days to figure out.
But more tests that produce results in a matter of minutes could soon, once again, line the shelves of local stores.
- Rapid COVID-19 tests are getting hard to find and retailers can't keep them in stock
- White House says it’s expanding supply of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests
"They are that 15-minute, rapid [test], looking for a piece of protein that's usually there when you have a lot of virus in your nose," Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai said.
The National Institutes of Health is set to spend $70 million to produce more at-home Covid tests that Northeast Wisconsinites can buy over the counter.
Rai says they're effective if used correctly.
"They're really good quick screens if somebody's positive to keep them at home and prevent them from spreading the disease," he said.
The widely available PCR screening administered by local testing sites can take at least 48 hours to be analyzed. But health experts say a longer wait still provides more reliable results.
"The difference is an answer in 15 minutes to an answer in 24 hours or maybe sometimes longer, depending on where that PCR is being sent," Rai said.
Businesses like RX Link Pharmacy in Appleton tell NBC 26 it's been difficult to keep rapid Covid tests in stock.
There are currently 10 at-home tests on the market.
"They're not as accurate as the long ones are, but they're a nice screening tool," Waushara County Public Health Officer Patti Wohlfeil said. "We use them a lot in schools. We use them here."
With low availability, self-screening kits can currently cost consumers over $100 out of pocket. If they're in stock, a box of two costs $16 at some local stores.
But Wohlfeil says tests results can be hard to prove.
"In the State of Wisconsin right now, they're saying if it's not done by a third party, somehow you can't count it," she said.
Still, if you're deciding whether to visit a loved one, a rapid test can help you find a quick answer.
"Why we use them in schools is to give you that ability to screen somebody and make some decisions," Wohlfeil said.