More than 24,000 people have reported COVID test results on the new NIH websiteThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Tens of thousands of Americans have reported a COVID-19 test result on the National Institutes of Health website, which launched in November.
the site, MakeMyTestCount.orgallows people to anonymously report the results of any brand of at-home COVID-19 test.
In updated data provided exclusively to ABC News, 24,000 people have reported a test result on the site. Additionally, three-quarters of the results were a positive test, and women were more likely to report a test result than men.
“I think there are more people being tested for COVID at this time than is being reported on this website. So it’s kind of like a small raindrop in a huge storm,” Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Waldman, an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Medical Center, told ABC News.
When asked about the disparity in female and male reporting rates, “I don’t think it’s specific to COVID. I think it’s more specific to women in general, who have a higher rate of self-reporting on volunteer websites and other programs,” she added.
Public health experts said it’s great that there’s a place for people to import test results and that more people are doing so than expected — but questions remain about self-reported data that could give scientists a better idea where the virus is spreading and who is most affected.
They also cautioned that there may be bias in who tends to report test results.
“The fact that we see three out of four reported tests as positive definitely does not mean that three out of four people are actually positive. It probably means that people are more likely to report a positive than a negative result,” Andrew Weitz, PhD, program director at the NIH and co-leader of the project, told ABC News.
But that doesn’t mean reporting home test results isn’t helpful to health officials. In fact, the more results provided, the clearer their understanding of COVID in the community.
“Absolute numbers may or may not tell the whole story, but what I think public health will begin to do better is how trends can help us understand that story,” Dr. Krishna Juluru, President innovations NIH Fellow and co-leader of the project, told ABC News.
Experts also urged the public to report their test results at home, whether positive or negative, to give health officials a better idea of what is happening in the community.
“Without the negative results, we don’t have a good idea of what the overall positivity rate might be and where we’re seeing real significant increases,” Dr. Matthew Binicker, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Laboratory of Clinical Virology, told ABC News. “We need to be able to determine where COVID is most prevalent, where we’re experiencing a spike [and] we need to have the total number tested, including positives and negatives, to get a really good picture of that.”
The NIH also launched a pilot program in one Pennsylvania county that will provide free COVID-19 health services entirely virtually. Up to 8,000 eligible residents are expected to participate in the program.
Under the program, a patient suffering from COVID-19 can receive at-home rapid tests, telehealth sessions and at-home treatments such as Paxlovid without leaving their home.
“It’s very much focused on a home setting, but we also allow people to have options, so if they want to take a test at a local community center, after a telehealth consultation, if they want to go and pick up their medication at a local pharmacy, we also allow this,” Juluru said.
Because antiviral drugs, such as Paxlovid, cannot be taken with some other drugs, so patients should meet with a clinician before any therapeutics are sent to their home.
There are plans to expand the program to multiple other sites throughout the year.
“This is a pilot program, so we’re doing it in the spirit of learning as much as possible,” Weitz said. The main goal of the NIH scientists is “to understand what works, what doesn’t, and how we can improve things if there is to be a larger rollout of this program,” he added.
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