You can now get at-home coronavirus tests for $119

22 April 2020, 12:05 | Updated: 22 April 2020, 12:20

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Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

The FDA-authorised COVID-19 at home test costs $119 and will be rolled out to most US states within weeks.

The lack of adequate testing has been a persistent issue during the coronavirus pandemic but now an FDA-authorised test that can be used at home will now be available for the first time.

The Food and Drug Administration in the US announced yesterday (April 21) that it has authorised the first at-home COVID-19 test. [H/T CBS News]

Health care workers and first responders will be prioritised first but then the test, called Pixel, will be on sale to everybody in most states within weeks.

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Coronavirus test
Coronavirus test. Picture: Getty Creative

How does the test work?

Pixel is a nasal swab fit developed by LabCorp. Before ordering you must complete an eligibility test. If you pass the test, you can then make your purchase and then they’ll FedEx the test to you. The test involves a sterile swab which you use and then send to one of the company’s labs for analysis. You can then find out the results online.

The test costs $119. You’ll need to check with your insurance whether the test is covered on your plan.

According to their website, the test will not be available in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Rhode Island. Those states are excluded because they have regulations against patients initiating their own lab tests.

New York and New Jersey are the two states with the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

What if the test comes back positive?

If your results are positive, it’s important to limit your exposure to other people and continue to monitor your symptoms.

The website mentions that the virus may not be detected by the test in early stages of infection. Furthermore, the virus may not be detected if the sample is not collected as directed. If you have reason to believe you have been exposed, it is important to follow up with a healthcare provider for further evaluation or to get re-tested.

After receiving your results, you will have the opportunity to speak with a licensed physician who can answer any questions you may have about your test results and help determine next steps in care.

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What about home tests in the UK?

Unfortunately, home testing is still not widely available in the UK.

The Government outlined plans to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home, with finger-prick kits that will be available from Amazon and Boots. [H/T The Telegraph]

These test can detect if a person has had coronavirus before and has since recovered. The test, carried out by a device that pricks your finger for blood, works this out by testing your blood for coronavirus antibodies to see if they have already beaten the virus and gained some immunity to it.

However, the roll out of these tests has been beset with problems. Last month, the Government ordered 3.5 million fingerprick tests, mainly from Chinese manufacturers, and later placed provisional orders for 17.5 million tests from nine firms, including some based in the UK. None of the tests were found by Oxford to be reliable enough for mass use. It could now be months before an effective coronavirus testing kit, that can be used at home, become available.