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IU Health doctor: US lacks successful strategy on COVID testing

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -The United States has been grappling with a shortage of at-home coronavirus tests.

Even if you’re lucky enough to get one, there’s a good chance you’ll have to cough up both time and money.

Dr. Paul Calkins, an anesthesiologist at IU Health, says the nation has lacked a successful testing strategy compared to other areas of the world since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the one thing that hasn’t gotten any better in the two years of the outbreak. 

“Many other countries that are in our situation just have much more robust testing regimens out there,” Calkins told News 8. “You can get tested literally anywhere really fast, and it’s either free or really cheap. I have a couple of BinaxNOW tests at home. They’re $30 if you can get them, which you can’t. I think it hasn’t been enough of a priority.”

Calkins also says evidence shows rapid, at-home testing is often unreliable, especially if the virus is in its early incubation stage. This can yield a false negative result. Human error is also a factor. The accuracy of the test depends on if a person administers it properly. 

PCR tests also have their limitations. While they are the gold standard, samples must be sent to a lab. It can take days before a person gets their results back.  

The administration is slated to launch on Wednesday. The federal site will allow people to order up to four coronavirus tests per household at no cost. Shipping will also be free.