Lutsar: Home coronavirus tests are unreliable ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The quick self-tests for coronavirus (COVID-19) are based on the detection of antibodies but they do not occur in the early stages of the disease when a person is most infectious, said Irja Lutsar, a professor of microbiology at the University of Tartu.

Lutsar told ERR there are two types of rapid detection tests: one for hospital use, which is very good and essential, which hopefully it will reach Estonian hospitals soon.

The other, however, are tests which can be taken at home and that society is eagerly waiting for. Unfortunately, according to the latest information, they are all based on antibody detection.

"Antibodies are not known to develop on the first or second day of the disease, the period when the person is most infectious. So they are not very good for early diagnosis of the disease. When these antibodies are produced, the taker does not know they have already been infected for a long time, that they are sick and have behaved like a non-sick person, potentially infecting others," Lutsar said, explaining the dangerous side of such tests.

She said the UK government, for example, bought 3.5 million tests but will not release them until they have had been tested for reliability. 

She also said she did not think a vaccine for the disease would be available in the next few months.

Lutsar said she did not think that tightening existing movement measures is currently necessary as most people who are not employed in medical facilities or grocery stores are already at home under the new rules.

She stressed that staying at home must be taken seriously but when the restrictions might ease, Lutsar could not say.

Health Board: Test sold online not suitable for self-testing 

The Health Board said on Thursday they had received numerous inquiries about buying coronavirus tests online. The authority advises people against buying them saying they are not suitable for self-testing.

Such professional rapid tests are intended only for initial rapid diagnosis, the result of which must be confirmed by a physician using more precise methods. To the knowledge of the Health Board, there are currently no self-tests which can be sold on the EU market as of March 26.

If you have any doubts or questions, contact the Health Board at


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Editor: Helen Wright

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