Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. This article is the opinion of the writer(s), and is presented for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to medical testing.
On/Go is one of the medical device brands that’s been cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. They claim that their On/Go At-Home COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Self-Test is the “#1 ranked” at home antigen self test, but don’t provide any proof to back that claim.
In this article we’ll review On/Go’s COVID test based on medical studies to determine if it should be the #1 go-to product for consumer COVID testing, or if there are superior alternatives.
What is Antigen Testing?
On/Go’s COVID test is an antigen test, which is one of several different types of medical tests that can detect COVID-19.
Antigen testing is performed to detect respiratory infections. It’s not only used to detect COVID-19, but also to detect other infections like the flu, histoplasmosis and pneumococcal pneumonia.
According to the CDC, antigen tests are most accurate when performed while the patient is symptomatic.
The way antigen tests actually work, according to the American Society for Microbiology, is by detecting a specific type of protein unique to COVID-19 from patient swabs.
Antigen tests provide results back to the patient quickly; typically in under an hour and often in under 30 minutes. This is one of their advantages compared to other types of infection testing.
Is On/Go’s Test Accurate?
Antigen testing is less accurate than a different type of COVID testing called Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), as we outlined in our Everlywell reviews article which analyzed another company selling COVID tests.
Medical research has proven that RT-PCR testing is more accurate. The linked study compared accuracy of antigen and RT-PCR testing in real-world medical settings, and found that RT-PCR results were more accurate.
The study authors noted that in asymptomatic patients especially, antigen testing was significantly less accurate, leading them to conclude that RT-PCR tests should be the default option when a patient is suspected to have COVID-19: “The lower sensitivity of antigen tests compared with RT-PCR testing supports the strategy of using a more sensitive NAAT test if there is high clinical suspicion for COVID-19.”
On/Go’s test is still likely to be accurate, and certainly better than nothing, but we don’t find it to be a good option compared with RT-PCR testing which is becoming the medical standard.
All of the FDA-cleared antigen tests, which can be accessed at this resource, should provide results with similar accuracy since they use the same type of technology.
How Accurate is the On/Go COVID Test?
On/Go hasn’t funded any medical studies proving the accuracy of their tests, but there is plenty of research on the accuracy of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 generally.
Since this is a well-established type of medical testing, and since On/Go’s device has been cleared by the FDA in the U.S., we can assume that the accuracy of On/Go tests is similar to the general accuracy of antigen tests.
The accuracy of COVID-19 antigen tests is measured in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity measures the likelihood of an antigen test correctly diagnosing an infectious patient as infectious, while specificity measures the likelihood of an antigen test correctly diagnosing a non-infectious patient as non-infectious.
Medical research has shown antigen tests to have a sensitivity of 82% in symptomatic patients and 68% in asymptomatic patients. We don’t find these to be particularly impressive results. This means that the rapid antigen testing provides a false negative result to an infectious patient 32 times out of 100 on average.
This data demonstrates why frequent testing is so important for patients who only have access to rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. The probability of an asymptomatic patient receiving a false negative twice in a row is only 10%, rather than 32% for a single test.
Free COVID Testing Options
If you can access more accurate COVID testing at a lower cost, it seems logical to do so.
We’ve already established that RT-PCR testing is more accurate than the antigen testing provided by On/Go, and there are several resources available to U.S. patients for finding free RT-PCR COVID testing sites.
The pharmacy brand CVS has over 4,800 COVID-19 testing sites and all of them are free to the patient. Input your ZIP code and find the closest location to you: https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing
The Department of Human Health Services (HHS) in the U.S. maintains an updated database of over 20,000 sites where patients can access free COVID testing, both RT-PCR and antigen testing depending on location. Resource here: https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html
The U.S. government also will ship COVID tests to your door at no cost. Find more information here: https://www.covid.gov/tests
Many local pharmacies also offer walk-in COVID tests to patients at no cost, so we recommend calling local pharmacies and asking about free COVID testing options.
In some situations patients may find a need for a paid COVID testing service, but unless it’s more accurate it seems illogical to us in the vast majority of situations to pay for On/Go’s products when there are so many free options, many of them likely to be more accurate.
How to Use the On/Go COVID Test Without the App
It will be challenging to use On/Go without downloading the app, because their standard practice is to publish results on the app.
For patients who refuse to download their app but wish to use their product, we recommend calling On/Go and explaining the situation. If you paid for their service, and wish to receive test results over the phone, they might oblige your request. Their phone number is: 888-965-0301.
You can also ask them over the phone or at their Contact form if they will deliver results via email or physical mail.
Because of HIPAA privacy rules regarding patient data, On/Go may not be able to provide the test results via any platform other than their app. Healthcare companies are often unable to email test results due to these laws.
On/Go COVID Test Instructions
On/Go has a YouTube video with instructions on how to properly use their product, which is embedded below:
This is a much more patient-friendly way to present instructions for medical testing than the documentation provided by another COVID test brand iHealth, which we recently reviewed.
What Stores Sell On/Go COVID Tests?
On/Go’s test kits are for sale at Walgreens, Walmart and Kroger. They’re also for sale online at their website, Amazon, and GoPuff.
Website link: https://www.letsongo.com/
At the time of writing, the price on Amazon is cheaper than the price on their website.
The Amazon price is $21.87 while the website price is $24.
On/Go COVID tests are also available for sale at some third-party retailers, both online and in-store, but we recommend only purchasing from the retailers listed above because these are the listed authorized retailers on On/Go’s website. This means that these are the only retailers you can guarantee you’re getting the correct product from.
How Should I Interpret On/Go COVID Test Results?
Because rapid antigen testing can provide false negative results nearly 35% of the time based on medical studies, we recommend that patients reach out to their doctor about potentially performing another test if they receive a negative result.
False negatives can delay proper treatment and increase the risk of complications from infectious disease, so minimizing this risk with multiple tests upon receiving an initial negative result seems logical, but should be discussed with a healthcare professional.
Are False Positive Results a Risk With On/Go?
False positive results are less of a risk than false negative results, because of the way antigen tests work. It’s more likely for the test to fail to detect a specific protein, than for the test to incorrectly detect a specific protein when none exists.
The previously-linked medical review of the accuracy of rapid antigen tests detailed how the average specificity was well over 90%. This means that the percentage of patients who were not infected and were correctly identified as not infected was well over 90%. So the risk of a false positive may be around 5%.
One of the ways to minimize the risk of a false positive test result is to take the test twice in a row. The chance of receiving a false positive result twice in a row is statistically less likely than once.
Does the On/Go COVID Test Detect Omicron?
We can’t find any medical research proving that the On/Go COVID test can detect Omicron. It likely can in most cases, due to the protein being the same, but we cannot conclusively say until it’s been proven in medical studies.
Abbott’s BinaxNOW test has been proven in one medical trial to effectively detect the Omicron variant, so that product may be a superior option for patients who believe they’ve been exposed to Omicron.
Are On/Go COVID Tests FDA Approved?
No. The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to On/Go due to the public risk of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this product has not completed the formal FDA approval process.
There are currently no rapid antigen tests that are approved by the FDA.