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With COVID-19 still rummaging through the country, there needed to be another way to test patients. However, a global shortage of testing made it difficult to consistently test and get accurate results. In May, the FDA authorized a certain at-home Coronavirus test kit that only requires a saliva sample. With testing being so crucial to get accurate numbers and statistics, let’s make sure you understand at-home kits a bit better:
Typically, a COVID-19 test requires getting a nasal swab, where a swab is taken from the back of the nasal cavity or throat. It’s then tested by public health labs and major commercial labs that can conduct large-scale testing.
In the at-home tests, you can do a saliva sample. Saliva testing allows patients to self-collect samples at home, protecting both themselves and health care professionals, according to Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics.
The reason it took so long to approve the at-home tests were because the FDA needed to make sure the samples could provide the same level of accuracy as nasal swabs. Much research had to be done in order to create the accuracy. With that being said, Yale Public Health researchers did a small preliminary study to find that saliva tests were dependable, and sometimes more accurate than nasal swab tests.
There are currently two types of tests available for home use: swab tests and saliva tests. The FDA authorized first at-home test kit, Pixel by LabCorp, on April 21, 2020. However, the test does require a doctor's order first and you can't buy it without one.
Another test was authorized on May 8, 2020, by Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory, using collection kits from Spectrum Solutions. This is the first at-home testing kit using saliva samples, and it can only be obtained with a prescription from a doctor.
In March, the FDA issued a warning against companies such as EverlyWell, Scanwell, and Nurx, who announced they would make and distribute at-home tests and try to get them directly into the hands of the consumers. They said the tests could be “fraudulent” since they are “unauthorized.”
The FDA worked with LabCorp to develop their own test that can be done at home, but at that time, there were no tests authorized by the FDA. With this warning, most companies put a hold on their testing orders. So basically, the only thing you need to do is to make sure you get the at-home tests that are approved by the FDA.
If you are not comfortable with taking the test at home on your own, or your doctor does not consent to giving you the at-home test, you can try to contact a testing center in your area for a test around where you live. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, call your doctor to determine if you have symptoms.
If you do need to be tested, your doctor can order a test and you’ll be able to visit the nearest drive-through testing center to receive it. Please do not visit a doctor’s office, urgent care, or ER if you have symptoms that match the Coronavirus, as you can expose many people around you. This is unless you have any emergency warning signs for COVID-19, then it’s suggested you call the hospital to warn them.