Several companies are starting to distribute coronavirus testing kits that people can use at home, which gives them the opportunity for a safer and more convenient method of checking their health before going back to work.
Experts, however, are concerned with the accuracy of the testing kits, some costs that insurers often don't cover, and other significant factors that make usage difficult, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Testing from home
At-home tests are the next step in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that followed tests that doctors performed at clinics and hospitals. Some of the more modern ones use a person's saliva to check if they have the virus. Every single test, however, whether conducted at home or not, must be given to a lab for analysis.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved six coronavirus at-home testing kits for emergency use. The administration gave the go-signal to the first test kit on April 20.
Health experts and industry officials said the at-home testing kits aim to broaden the reach of testing to include people with disabilities, weaker immune systems, or those who have difficulty in transportation.
The testing kits will add to the overall number of people who can start getting tested for the coronavirus within the United States.
According to The New York Times, the FDA approved a testing kit developed by LabCorp last April which can only be acquired if a doctor orders it and only LabCorp can process the data of the test conducted. The kit would cost $119, which is a steep price given that the country needs to make millions of tests every day.
Several other testing methods have been released the past few weeks which include a saliva-based test that was made available in New Jersey and Southern California; drive-through test sites have utilized cheek swabs to test for the coronavirus.
Currently, scientists are working on the development of a rapid test that is based on Crisp technology. Supporters of the research revealed that each test would cost about $6 for the materials needed to manufacture it.
Rushing to test
Last March, however, the FDA forced two companies to retrieve at-home testing kits that they released without the agency's approval. Other types of coronavirus tests have had difficulty with producing accurate results.
The FDA announced on Monday that any company that is selling test kits are required to submit data they acquire to the agency to prove the accuracy of the results within ten days of the actual test or they will be removed from the market.
One other significant factor that is hampering at-home testing kits is the capability of laboratories to analyze the results that they would result in. Rutgers University's RUCDT Infinite Biologics can analyze up to 30,000 tests per day.
Hims Inc., a partner of Rutgers, is asking potential patients to fill out an online assessment form that gathers data which include contact with confirmed cases or signs and symptoms relating to the coronavirus.
Andrew Dudum, Chief Executive of Hims, said that the FDA is aiming to prioritize symptomatic patients, which result in physicians unable to prescribe the test to people who do not show symptoms.
Another factor limiting the use of the test kits is the price. Rutgers put their tests at about $150, and Everlywell Inc. puts theirs at about $109, while PrivaPath comes at about $129. Dudum said that the company is currently working with insurance companies to cover the full cost of the tests, but recent patients have only received a part of their money back.
Related Article: Coronavirus Weaker? Doctor Claims COVID-19 is Becoming Less Lethal