Yale Study: Free Home COVID Tests Could Save 15K Lives

Mar 15, 2021

Over 15,000 lives could be saved if every household in America got a free COVID-19 home testing kit. That’s according to a study from Yale.

David Paltiel is a professor with the Yale School of Public Health. He said it would cost about $68 per person — what he calls a justifiable cost — to mail every American household a package of COVID-19 antigen tests and ask them to use them weekly.

“The technology exists. You can buy exactly the kind of tests we’re talking about in grocery stores right now in Germany. Evidence from Europe suggests that in fact antigen testing really can take a bite out of the epidemic,” Paltiel said.

For their study, Paltiel said his team tried to incorporate objections from skeptics who’ve raised concerns about the performance of the tests, the cost and the efficacy.

“Basically to lean really heavily on the scales to bias the evaluation against our own findings, we assumed that as many as 75% of the tests that would get mailed out would go straight into the garbage. People wouldn’t even use them,” Paltiel said.

Even so, the report still finds a hypothetical home testing mailer would prevent millions of COVID-19 cases — and would complement the current push for vaccination.

“The better job we do testing, the less work we’re gonna give the vaccine to have to do and the better it’s going to work,” Paltiel said.

Paltiel said antigen tests may not diagnose infection as accurately as PCR tests. But he said it’s the preferred test for telling if someone is actually contagious.