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The first home testing kit for COVID-19 has received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in the US. Produced by LabCorp, the diagnostics company intends to start using it with healthcare workers and first responders initially. 

For those eligible for testing, all it takes is a simple nose swab to get a sample of the fluid which then needs to be sent off to a lab for analysis, reports Nicole Wetsman for The Verge, where this article was originally featured. By being able to take a swab at home, there’s no need for anyone else to be involved in the process, reducing the chances of exposing anyone else to the novel coronavirus. There’s also less PPE needed when the test is performed by the person needing to know their COVID-19 status, a saving grace with such limited stocks in the US at the moment. The testing kit has a pricetag of $119. 

Image credit: 112.International

To take the test, you’d need to swirl a cotton bud around the rim of your nostril. This is a lot less uncomfortable than the current testing, which needs a swab inserted deep into your nasal cavity to reach the point where the nose and throat meet. The accuracy of the home tests matches up the results you can get from the more invasive testing methods, as shown in results of testing done by UnitedHealth Group and the Gates Foundation. First given permission for use at the end of March, the FDA still originally required clinician supervision. 

A new market for home testing has quickly emerged in the last month, with biotech startups saying that existing rules mean labs with the right certification were allowed to design and distribute new tests. However, the FDA clarified that when people are being asked to collect their own samples, there needed to be additional authorization from them. 

So far, only the LabCorp test that’s produced by Pixel, a consumer-focused testing brand, has been granted this additional authorization. The portion of the work that’s carried out in a lab setting already had approval for use, but the company was still having to use healthcare workers to collect samples. Under the same process as other COVID-19 tests that have come onto the market, authorization from the FDA is under its emergency use rules; the normal approval process has been circumvented. 

On average, there are around 147,000 cases of COVID-19 being reported each day in the USA. However, experts warn that there still needs to be a massive boost in testing to be able to understand and ultimately curb the spread of the disease.

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