Close Up Of Human Hands Holding A Covid Rapid Test
AzmanL/E+/Getty Images

12 Photos Of Positive Covid Test Results

It can be tricky to tell positive from negative.

Covid testing has come a long way since 2020. Back at the start of the pandemic, tests were unreliable and nearly impossible to get, but now most of us can find a same-day appointment at drive-thru testing sites across our states. Even better, we now have access to at-home Covid tests so we don’t even have to leave the house. These tests are incredibly convenient but in order to accurately read your test, it’s helpful to have pictures of positive at-home Covid test results to use as a point of reference.

Are home Covid tests reliable?

Given that the virus itself is so new and still has so many unknowns, it’s fair to wonder whether or not at-home Covid tests are reliable. Thomas Denny, MSc, MPhil, a Professor in Medicine at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine, tells Romper in an email, “Yes [at-home Covid tests are reliable], but as with all testing platforms they have advantages/disadvantages.”

The disadvantage of an at-home test is that it isn’t nearly as sensitive as a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that you’d get at a doctor’s office or another medical testing site. Because of this, you’re more likely to get a false negative with an at-home Covid test than with a PCR test. According to Denny, false negatives happen around 15-20% of the time with at-home Covid tests, particularly when they’re taken early on in the infection (which isn’t as much of an issue with PCR tests). False positives, however, only happen 1-2% of the time.

The best way to ensure your negative result is correct is to keep testing, Denny says. “[False negatives] can be countered by repeat testing over a few days,” he explains, “Repeated negatives increase the certainty of a true negative.”

How and when to take a Covid test

“One of the biggest variables to all testing is to have a good quality swab process,” says Denny, so it’s extremely important to read and follow the directions that come in your at-home Covid test so that you can get an accurate result. As for when to take an at-home Covid test, there is no perfect answer. “When an individual turns positive is related to the specific variant, because they have different incubation periods, and how much exposure someone has had” Denny explains.

Your best bet is to take a test as soon as you start experiencing symptoms, or once you know you’ve been exposed. If it comes back as a false negative at that point, Denny says you’re “most likely not able to transmit [the virus] to others on that day.” However, don’t trust the negative result right away, wait another day or two and take another test (and possibly another a day or so after that one).

How will you know if the test is positive, though? Here are some photos of positive Covid test results to help you read your result.


BinaxNow Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test

The BinaxNow Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test comes with a swab and a testing solution. Unlike a lot of other at-home Covid tests, this one has a fold-over card that’s used for testing. After swabbing the nose, you’ll put a few drops of the solution into a little hole, then insert your swab into the hole, twist it around a few times, and wait 15 minutes for results. As you can see in this photo, you’ll read your results in a little window with a test strip with a control line and a sample line. The sample line’s darkness may vary, but even a faint line should be considered positive.


Quidel QuickVue at-Home OTC COVID-19 Test Kit

With the Quidel QuickVue at-Home OTC COVID-19 Test Kit, you’ll swab your nose and then insert the swab into a little tube filled with a testing solution. You’ll swirl the swab around and then dip a testing strip into the tube to test the sample. After 10 minutes, you can check your results. The test strip will have a control line, and if a second line appears (also known as a test line), no matter how faint, it should be read as a positive result.


FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test

Similar to many other at-home Covid tests, with the FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test you’ll get a swab, a tube with solution, and a test. Swirl the swab around each nostril to collect your sample and then swirl it in the solution-filled tube. Close the top of the tube and then drip four drops into the little window on the test marked “S” (for sample). Results will appear within 15 minutes, and if you see both a control line and a test line, whether it’s dark or faint, the test is positive.


On/Go 10-Minute Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test

What sets the On/Go 10-Minute Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test apart from most of the other at-home Covid tests is that it comes with access to an app that will help you read your results. You’ll follow a similar process as the other tests, swirling the swab around the inside of both nostrils, dipping it into the test solution, and then placing a few drops of the solution onto a test. Then, after about 10 minutes you can use the app to take a photo of the test and it will let you know if it’s positive, negative, or invalid. The app is nice because it also tracks your testing history and offers the ability to share your results with other people.


Lucira Check-It Covid-19 Test Kit

Yes, this is actually a photo of a negative Covid test result, but it’s still helpful. When you use the Lucira Check-It Covid-19 Test Kit, you’ll insert batteries into the test reader to ensure it’s ready to go (a green light will appear next to “ready” at the top). Then, you'll set (don’t push) the testing vile into the test unit and let it sit there while you use the test swab to collect your sample in each nostril. Once you’ve finished swabbing your nose, insert the swab all the way into the testing vile, until you feel it touch the bottom. Close the vile and push it down into the unit until you hear it click. The ready light will begin blinking to indicate that it’s running the test. The test will take around 30 minutes, and you’ll know it’s complete when a green light appears next to “done” on the top right of the unit. If the test is positive, a green light will appear next to “positive” on the testing unit, rather than next to “negative” like you see in this photo. If both “positive” and “negative” light up, the test is invalid.


iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test

If you ordered the free at-home Covid tests through the federal government, you may have received the iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test. It works similarly to most others on this list. You’ll swab each nostril of your nose, then put the swab in a tube with a testing solution. Then, you’ll close the tube, which will convert it into a dropper, and place three drops in the small oval sample window. Results will appear in 15 minutes, and if there is any kind of line under the “T” then you have a positive result. As you can see in this photo, the positive “T” line can appear darker than the “C” (control) line, the same color, or much lighter.


Ellume Covid-19 Home Test

With the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test, you don’t have to worry about reading your own results, because there’s an app that will do it for you thanks to Bluetooth technology. After you take the test, it will process for about 15 minutes before the result pops up on your phone through the app.

It’s worth noting that this test doesn’t have great reviews online, so if you’re on the hunt for an at-home Covid test, be cautious with this one.


CLINITEST Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test

For the CLINITEST Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test, you’ll swirl the swab around the inside of each nostril and then swirl it around the included testing tube six times before letting it sit for one full minute. After the minute has passed, remove the swab and place the dropper top on top of the tube. Add four drops of the sample to the test (the round dot with an “S”) and wait 15 minutes. If two lines appear on the test, then it’s positive.


InteliSwab Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Home Test

A positive result on the InteliSwab Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Home Test can potentially look a bit different than most other home tests, so it’s very important to read your results carefully. As you can see in this photo, if a test line is present at all, whether it’s dark, light, or visible without a control line, it’s considered a positive reading. The missing control line can be somewhat confusing, so if you glance down at your results and see a single line, it’s really important to double-check to make sure it’s next to the “C” and not the “T” (a control line with no test line is a negative result).


Access Bio CareStart Covid-19 Antigen Home Test

With the Access Bio CareStart Covid-19 Antigen Home Test, you’ll collect your nasal sample on a swab and mix it with the testing solution in the provided tube. Next, place the dropper on the top of the tube and add three drops of the sample/solution to the square sample window on the test. Your result will show up within 15 minutes, and if you see a test line of any kind, no matter how dark, the test is positive.


Celltrion DiaTrust Covid-19 Ag Home Test

Much like other at-home Covid tests, the Celltrion DiaTrust Covid-19 Ag Home Test uses a nasal swab to collect a sample for testing. After you’ve swabbed the inside of both nostrils, you’ll mix your sample with the testing solution in the tube provided, add three drops of the solution to the circle sample window on the test and wait 15 minutes for results. If two lines appear, regardless of how dark the test line is, you are positive for Covid-19.


BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit

The BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Digital Test Kit uses an app to deliver your test results to you (check to make sure your phone is compatible with the app before purchasing the test, though). The process for taking the test is the same as most of the others, a nasal swab, test tube, and dropper, but when the 15 minute waiting period is over, instead of reading the results yourself, you’ll scan the test and the app will read it fo you.

According to Denny, “Testing is an important tool to limit infections to others and we need to continue to develop strong testing capacity in the U.S.” Using these photos of positive Covid test results as a point of reference can be very helpful in determining whether or not you’re positive for the virus.


Thomas Denny, MSc, MPhil, Professor in Medicine at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine