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Home COVID testing is a free and easy part of daily life in the UK, and the US has taken note

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London – Rapid at-home COVID-19 testing may soon be a reality in the United States The White House has a billion-dollar plan to make over-the-counter testing more readily available. They are currently very difficult to obtain in the United States, but as CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, this is not the case in Britain.

Bea Banks and her schoolmate Izzy Rivers are perfectly healthy teenagers. But like many students across England, they test for COVID-19 twice a week.

Why?

“Because if it comes back positive then you have to stay home,” Bea explained. “If you don’t test you will never know you actually have it, and by then it will be too late and you will infect other people.”

Home testing has become as common in the UK as brushing your teeth and packing your books for school. Bea and Izzy had no idea things were so different across the Atlantic.

“I think it’s really weird!” said Izzy. “I guess, like, I wouldn’t feel any less safe going to school. But I would feel more worried… you wouldn’t know if someone had it.

Getting the test kits couldn’t be easier. They are readily available in just about any drug store nationwide. Anyone can just come in and request them – and they’re completely free, usually given out in boxes of five or seven. You can go back and get as many as you want.

If you can even find one in the US, they usually cost $ 12 – for a single test.

The kits contain rapid antigenic tests, which can identify around 98% of infectious cases of COVID-19. With similar programs rolled out elsewhere in Europe, they have helped slow the spread of the virus across the continent.

“This is a very good additional tool in our kit to fight COVID,” Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London, one of the UK’s leading epidemiologists, told CBS News. “It reassures people, it’s easy to do… it’s by no means perfect, but it just gives you additional knowledge. You know if you test negative all the time, you are safe.”

Spector helped create an app at the start of the pandemic that millions of Britons downloaded to report suspicious symptoms themselves. Data collected through the “Zoe” app has revealed that the coronavirus can be misleading, making rapid home testing all the more vital.

“The top four symptoms currently in the UK in people who test positive are cold-like symptoms,” including headache, sore throat, runny nose and sneezing, Spector said. “These are not the classic symptoms [of COVID-19]. So how do you know if you have COVID or if you have a cold? Take a test – and do it before you go and infect 20 other people. “

The FDA announced last week that it would allow the sale of similar antigen tests in the United States, and the White House has pledged 200 million rapid home tests per month to be available from December.

In Britain, they are not just for schools. Planners of everything from weddings to sporting events have asked guests to try it out, and with several vacations on the horizon, parents may seek reassurance before playing host or sending their kids to social events. crowded.

“I went to the theater last week and they asked us to do a test,” British mother Ruth Banks told D’Agata. “Sometimes a hockey club – I play hockey, so they’ll ask me, ‘Please can you test before you come for tea at the social club?’ So quite regularly. ”

Spector has stressed that rapid tests are “only part of the arsenal,” and he worries when people suggest that any weapon in the fight against COVID-19 could be a silver bullet. The only solution, he says, is to throw away whatever is available – including vaccines and measures like distancing and face masks in combat.

It’s “all of these things together that really work,” Spector said.

And testing may soon become part of daily life in the United States, too – just one more weapon to help stop the spread.

For American students or parents who think it may be weird to incorporate the COVID self-test into their routines, Izzy offered the following tips:

“It sounds like such a big thing, pushing something up your nose and down your throat, but it’s not that bad. You do it and then it’s done.”

A little discomfort is a small price to pay so that everyone can rest a little easier.

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