Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Significant Reporting Disparity: During the study period, 10.7 million self-test results were reported compared to 361.9 million laboratory-based and point-of-care test results, highlighting a vast underreporting of self-test outcomes.
  2. Demographic Reporting Similarities: The completeness of demographic reporting was comparable across self-tests and other testing methods, suggesting potential for self-tests to contribute valuable data to public health surveillance.
  3. Limited Data Reduces Surveillance Utility: Despite their importance for individual decision-making, the limited data and quality of information reported from self-tests currently diminish their capability to enhance public health surveillance efforts.
  4. Self-Tests Reflect Underascertainment: The underreporting of self-test results likely contributes to the underascertainment of COVID-19 cases, despite these tests being a crucial tool for personal health management and risk reduction.
  5. Need for Improved Data Collection Infrastructure: Enhancing the infrastructure and methods for collecting and analyzing self-test data could improve their utility for public health surveillance and response during emergencies.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Matthew D. Ritchey,

Suggested Citation

Ritchey MD, Rosenblum HG, Del Guercio K, et al. COVID-19 Self-Test Data: Challenges and Opportunities — United States, October 31, 2021–June 11, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:1005–1010. DOI:


This report outlines the challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 self-test data collection in the United States from October 31, 2021, to June 11, 2022. Despite the substantial increase in self-test usage, the reporting of these tests remains voluntary, resulting in a significant gap in public health surveillance data. The report compares the voluntarily reported self-test data with laboratory-based and point-of-care test data collected by the CDC, discussing similarities in demographic reporting and trends in test positivity rates.


The CDC analyzed data from four manufacturers of COVID-19 self-tests, focusing on the volume of tests reported, the positivity rate of these tests, and the completeness of demographic information provided. This analysis was compared with data from laboratory-based and point-of-care tests to assess the potential of self-test data in enhancing public health surveillance.


The discussion emphasizes the critical role self-tests play in individual health management and risk reduction. However, the current limitations in data collection and reporting significantly reduce their utility in public health surveillance. The report suggests that improvements in data collection infrastructure and methods could enhance the surveillance value of self-test data.


Self-tests are an essential tool for managing COVID-19 risk at the individual level, but their potential to contribute to public health surveillance is currently limited by underreporting and data quality issues. Future efforts should focus on developing better methods and infrastructure for collecting and analyzing self-test data, which could improve their utility for public health decision-making during emergencies.


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