You Can Now Test for COVID-19 at Home

Cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed around the country, making it harder to get tested if you think you may have the virus. The good news is, there is now an at-home COVID-19 test that you can use on yourself to find out if you are positive in 30 minutes!

Before this, you could take a swab at home and mail it off for analysis. This new test gives you full results. “While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. “This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission. Today’s action underscores the FDA’s ongoing commitment to expand access to COVID-19 testing.”

While the test needs a prescription, this might mean you can just call your doctor, discuss your symptoms and be prescribed the test. You won’t have to go to a testing facility or into a medical facility. A friend or family member could pick it up for you. You could also call ahead and have the pharmacy bring it outside to your car, allowing you to avoid potentially spreading the virus. And, if your results are negative, you will have far more peace of mind. If you are positive, you call your doctor for further instructions and advice.

Now, more Americans who may have COVID-19 will be able to take immediate action, based on their results, to protect themselves and those around them,” said Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

As it’s a prescription, it may be covered by your insurance. Otherwise, the price is around $50. You use a swab on both nostrils, stir the swap into a vial of chemicals and plug the vial into a battery-powered tester. In a half-hour, it will light up positive or negative. Regardless of whether you are positive or negative, you should inform your doctor to help keep track of public health numbers.  

It’s not as accurate as the test that takes a couple of days to get results from your doctor or a testing site. That’s the P.C.R. test. This test accurately diagnosed 94 percent of the people who had already been diagnosed with a P.C.R. test. But it’s much faster and can be done at home.

Right now, the test will be available in California and Florida and will be widely available nation-wide soon. Until they reach your area, it is still possible to collect a sample at home and send it off to be tested. Knowing your risks and how available P.C.R. tests are in your area, your doctor can judge what would be best for you.

Banner image: Lucira Health, Inc.
November 19, 2020
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