Will’s White Stick Buyer’s Guide

Apologies to Consumers’ Union for having fun with their trademark Buying Guide logo.

Covid-19 is something nobody wants to get, but everybody wishes they’d already had

  • In Heinsberg, Germany, 22.2% of the seropositive (have antibodies) were asymptomatic (for the nuances of this strange word, see Covid with Style: A Writer’s Guide #1. The hidden dangers of ‘asymptomatic.’).
  • In a study of French lycée (high-school) students at the center of an outbreak by Institut Pasteur, 17% seropositive showed no or subclinical symptoms.
  • rapid, in the sense that the results are readable in 10–15 minutes.
  • immunoassay, testing for antibodies in the blood. For SARS-CoV-2, the important one is called IgG. Most test also show a result for IgM, which is produced by the body during the infection, but fades away after. (IgM and IgG explained here).
  • lateral flow relates to a chemical/physical principle relied on inside the white plastic shell.
Laminar flow at work.

White stick, or lab test?

Your testing strategy

Or, a crash course in SARS-CoV-2 blood antibody kinematics

  • Don’t bother getting tested less than 28 days after your symptoms appeared. Here’s why:
21 days after symptoms is the earliest to test for IgG. 28 is better.
  • Just ignore the IgM part of the test.
  • Use the Mass General Rule — faint lines don’t count as positive — when looking at the result lines.

How we rate the tests: avoiding false positives

BioMedomics of North Carolina is the only U.S. kit.

Key to Sources

Professor Sir John Bell, GBE, FRS, Regius Professor of Medicine Oxford University, Government Advisor on Life Sciences.

Top-Rated

The Innovita white stick.
From Sure test instructions.

Acceptable — Very Good

2,500 of these DeepBlue kit are buried in a landfill deep in the heart of Texas.
DNK

Acceptable

UPC Biosciences Inc.

Acceptable with caveats

Biolidics kit.

Not Acceptable

DecomBio stick.

On Probation

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Will Bates writes about science, technology, and business. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous magazines.

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Will Bates

Will Bates writes about science, technology, and business. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous magazines.

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