More than 24,000 people have reported their COVID test results to the new NIH website
Tens of thousands of Americans have reported their COVID-19 test result on the National Institutes of Health’s website launched in November.
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 to the site. In addition, three-quarters of the results tested positive and women were more likely to report a test result than men.
“I think there are more people testing COVID at this time than are being reported on this site. So, this is just kind of a small raindrop in a huge storm,” Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Waldman, MD, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at UC Davis Medical Center, according to ABC News.
When asked about the discrepancy in reporting levels between women and men, “I don’t think it’s specific to COVID. I think this is more specific to women in general, and they have higher rates of self-reporting on volunteer websites and other programs,” she added.
Public health experts said it’s great that there is 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 of where the virus is spreading and who is hardest hit.
They also warn that there may be bias in who tends to report test results.
“The fact that we see three out of every four tests reported positive certainly does not mean that three out of four people are actually positive. Most likely, it means that people are more inclined to report a positive result than a negative,” Andrew Weitz, PhD, program director at the National Institutes of Health and co-chair of the project, he told ABC News.
But that doesn’t mean reporting test results at home isn’t helpful to health officials. In fact, the more scores provided, the clearer their understanding of COVID was in the community.
“Absolute numbers may or may not tell the whole story, but what I think the public health community will start to grapple with better is how trends can help us understand this story,” Dr. Krishna Golluru, a presidential innovation fellow at the National Institutes of Health and co-chair of the project, told ABC News.
Experts also urged the public to report test results at home regardless of whether they are positive or negative to provide health officials with a better understanding of what is going on in the community.
Matthew Pinker, PhD, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, told ABC News. “We need to be able to identify where COVID is spreading, where we’re seeing a spike [and] We need to get the total number of tests including positive and negative to get a good idea of that.”
The National Institutes of Health is also launching a shareware In one county in Pennsylvania, it will provide free COVID-19 health services almost entirely. Up to 8,000 eligible residents are expected to participate in the program.
Under the program, a patient with COVID-19 can have rapid at-home tests, telehealth sessions, and at-home treatments such as Paxlovid without leaving their home.
“It’s very much focused on the home environment, but we also allow people to have options, so if they want to get tested at a local community centre, after a telehealth consultation if they want to get their medication from a local pharmacy, we are We allow that too.”
Because antivirals, such as Paxlovid, cannot be taken with certain other medications, patients should see a doctor before any treatments are sent home.
There are plans to expand the program to several more locations throughout the year.
“This is an experimental program, so we’re doing it in the spirit of learning as much as we can,” Weitz said. He added that the main goal of the scientists at the NIH is to “understand what works and what doesn’t work and how we can improve things if there is a large-scale launch of this program.”