The FDA Gave the Greenlight to the First At-Home Coronavirus Test
Here’s what you should know about it
You may soon be able to learn if you’re infected with the new coronavirus without leaving your home. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first at-home coronavirus collection test.
The test, manufactured by LabCorp, will allow people to collect their own nasal swab at home and drop the sample in the mail to be analyzed to determine whether they have Covid-19. They will first need to fill out a questionnaire about their symptoms, then a doctor will need to order the test. After their sample is processed, patients will be able to access their results online.
“There is now a convenient and reliable option for patient sample collection from the comfort and safety of their home,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, said in an April 21 statement. The agency worked with LabCorp to make sure the test was “as safe and accurate as sample collection at a doctor’s office, hospital or other testing site.” The test uses a Q-tip-style cotton nasal swab to collect a sample from the inside edge of the nostril, rather than deep in the nasal cavity, like the vast majority of diagnostic tests for Covid-19.
The LabCorp test, which costs $119, will initially be limited to health care workers and first responders who may have been exposed to Covid-19 or have symptoms of the disease. In the coming weeks, the company says it plans to make the kits more broadly available to other consumers.
In March, a handful of startups said they would start offering at-home collection kits, but the FDA quickly stepped in. It issued a statement on March 20 warning consumers against what it called “unauthorized fraudulent test kits” and said the agency had not yet authorized any at-home tests.
But the latest FDA decision could open the floodgates for more at-home tests, which could help alleviate the coronavirus testing shortage in the United States. Proponents say at-home testing will also help prevent the risk of transmitting the virus to others, since people don’t have to go to a health care facility to get tested. And because at-home tests don’t require a doctor or nurse to administer them, they could also reduce the demand for personal…