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Gathering for the holidays? The best time to take an at-home COVID test is Christmas morning, doctors say

PCR tests are best at detecting COVID-19, but they take a day or two to process. Doctors shared advice for people relying on at-home tests before family gatherings.

People are scrambling to get tested for COVID-19 to avoid bringing the virus along to family gatherings. But with Christmas Eve a day away, the window for getting the gold standard PCR test is closing quickly.

Since many will be taking at-home rapid tests, or antigen tests, Dr. Stan Spinner with Texas Children’s Hospital wants you to know timing is key.

RELATED: To grandmother's house or no? Omicron disrupts holiday plans

“You want to get the testing done as close to the time you’ll be with others as possible,” he explained. “If you have one test and you’re planning for Christmas on Saturday, I would say do it Saturday morning. The added fun about omicron is since it replicates so fast, those things can change very rapidly. You may not have enough detectable virus Friday afternoon or evening, but by Saturday morning you may.”

RELATED: Need a COVID test before Christmas? There's still time but act fast

Doctors say at-home tests are most accurate if you’re showing symptoms.

“We don’t have that accuracy when you’re not having symptoms. If you’re asymptomatic, you can have both false positives and false negatives,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky with UTHealth.

Dr. Luis Ostrosky says most COVID tests do detect omicron.

Since the time for PCR tests are running out, doctors say at-home tests are the next best option for Christmas — if you can find one.

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