More than 24K people have reported COVID test results to new NIH website

More than 24K people have reported COVID test results to new NIH website

Tens of thousands of Americans have reported a COVID-19 test result on the National Institutes of Health website since November.

The site,, allows people to anonymously report the results of any brand of home test for COVID-19.

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 are a positive test, and women were more likely to report a test result than men.

“I think there are more people who are testing for COVID at this time than are being reported on this website. So this is just a small raindrop in a big storm,” Dr. Sarah Elisabeth Waldman, an associate professor. in the division of infectious diseases at UC Davis Medical Center, told ABC News.

When asked about the discrepancy in women’s and men’s reporting rates, “I don’t think it’s specific to COVID. I think it’s more specific to women in general, having higher rates of self-reporting on websites volunteering and other programs,” she added.

Photo illustration of a government-issued home-testing kit for COVID-19.

Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images, FILE

Public health experts said it’s good there’s a place for people to import test results and that more people are doing so than expected — but questions remain about what self-reported data can provide. scientists a better idea of ​​where the virus is spreading and who is most affected.

They also cautioned that there may be a bias in who is inclined to report test results.

“The fact that we’re seeing three out of four tests reported as positive definitely doesn’t mean that three out of four people are actually positive. It likely means that people are more likely to report a positive result rather than negative.” Andrew Weitz, Ph.D., program director at NIH and co-leader of the project, told ABC News.

But that doesn’t mean reporting home test results isn’t useful to health officials. In fact, the more results given, the clearer their understanding of COVID in the community.

“The absolute numbers may or may not tell the whole story, but what I think the public health community is starting to better address is how trends can help us understand that story,” Dr. Krishna Juluru, a Presidential Innovation Fellow at NIH 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 sense of what’s happening in the community.

“Without the negatives, we don’t have a good idea of ​​what the overall positivity rate might be and where we’re seeing real significant increases,” Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., director of the clinical virology laboratory at the Mayo Clinic. , told ABC News. “We need to be able to determine where COVID is most prevalent, where we are experiencing an increase [and] we need to have the total number tested, including positives and negatives, to really understand this.”

NIH is also starting a pilot program in one county in Pennsylvania that will offer 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 sick with COVID-19 could receive rapid home tests, telehealth sessions and home treatments like Paxlovid without leaving home.

“It’s mainly focused on a home environment, but we also allow individuals to have options, so if they want to have a test at a local community centre, after a telehealth consultation if they want to go and get their medication at a pharmacy local, we allow this too”, said Juluru.

A woman inserting a swab into the antigen test extraction tube

Cris Cantã³n/Getty Images, FILE

Since antiviral drugs, such as Paxlovid, cannot be taken with some other medications, so patients must meet with a clinician before any therapy is sent to their home.

There are plans to expand the program to many more 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. A key goal for scientists at the NIH is, “to understand what works, what doesn’t, and how we can improve things if there was a larger scale of this program,” he added.

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