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Business_news There are 8 coronavirus tests you can use from home. Here’s how they work and where to order one.

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Everlywell’s at-home collection kit for coronavirus samples.

Everlywell


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  • There are 8 tests for the novel coronavirus that you can take at home.
  • They work by collecting samples from the nose or mouth. Then, they’re shipped to laboratories, where a process called “nucleic acid amplification” finds the virus’ genetic material. 
  • The hope of at-home testing is to get tests in the hands of people who might otherwisestruggle to find tests; rural areas and ZIP codes with more people of color tend to have less testing sites per capita.
  • They cost anywhere from $0 to $150, and some of the companies accept funds from health savings accounts.
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Among the hundreds of tests out there for the novel coronavirus, just a handful have received emergency authorization from the US food and Drug Administration to ship them to people’s homes. 

With at-home tests, people self-collect their samples and ship them back to the testing company for analysis. Many of the companies have their own labs and tests, or partner with other groups to run the samples, according to the FDA and business Insider’s reporting.

Over the past few months stateshave started reopeningand testing supplieshave increased. Even so, coronavirus tests may still be hard to find for many,according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s fewer testing sites in areas that are at least 75% people of color, and nearly two-thirds of rural counties have none at all, according toreportingby Axios andanalysisby the nonprofit Surgo Foundation.

At-home testing could make getting checked for coronavirus more accessible for those groups. They’re also useful for people who feel sick and don’t want to infect others, or are similarly afraid of getting infected by visiting a testing site or clinic. 

People seem to be taking these companies up on their at-home options. Testing company Everlywell has shipped nearly 75,000 coronavirus tests since March, according to a spokesperson. Fulgent Genetics, another testing group, said it’s processing thousands of the tests per day.

LabCorp,the first healthcare company to get the at-home kits authorized, has run more than 4 million diagnostic tests since March, though that number includes those carried out at testing locations as well, a spokesperson told BI.

The at-home tests are similar in their sensitivity, or ability to detect coronavirus-positive samples, and specificity, or their ability to detect coronavirus-negative samples. To get tested, customers usually fill out some kind of questionnaire, get the testing kit, and ship it back for results.

The price of the tests can range, with some tests costing as much as $150. Under the CARES Act, insurers have to provide coronavirus testing at no cost to members, but many of them are not doing so,healthcare executives told BI.

Here are the eight emergency authorized coronavirus tests you can get at home.  

Business_news How at-home coronavirus tests work

Coronavirus testing continues at the ProHealth testing centers in Jericho, New York on April 22, 2020.

J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images


Unlike antibody tests, which measure for the body’s immune response to the virus, these “diagnostic,” “viral,” or “molecular” tests detect the actual presence of the virus itself and, by extension, infection or very recent infection. They’re how doctors tell patients who visit the hospital whether they have coronavirus or not. 

The tests work by a process called “nucleic acid amplification.” That’s when laboratory machines detect the genetic material of the virus by “amplifying” or copying it, according to Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a director in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. 

Diagnostic tests work with a variety of samples from the upper respiratory tract. The best ones to use, according to Pritt, are nasopharyngeal swabs, which goway backin people’s nasal passages until they reach the upper part of the throat behind the nose, called the nasopharynx. Viral loads tend to be heaviest there, Pritt said.

Sometimes the tests used for at-home programs were studied in part with nasopharyngeal or other samples prior to getting the FDA’s go-ahead, but the kits themselves use nasal and spit samples.

While not ideal, it’s easier for people to swab the insides of their mouths and noses than the back of their nasal passage; and they work about nine times out of 10, Pritt, who’s developed diagnostic tests for other conditions, told BI.

Business_news LabCorp

A technician scans test tubes containing coronavirus samples.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes


Official name:COVID-19 RT-PCR Test

Who makes the test: LabCorp makes the collection kit, and the test was developed in-house usingdevices and equipmentfrom Roche, Thermo Fisher, and Integrated DNA Technologies, depending on how it’s run, according to the FDA and a LabCorp spokesperson. Tests are carried out at the company’s facilities. 

How it works: After a survey, LabCorp can file the cost of the test to people’s insurance, or possibly cover it with federal funds, depending on eligibility, a spokesperson told BI. Then, the company sends a collection kit that includes a swab that’s inserted into their noses to get samples,known as a nasal swab. The collection kits are sent via FedEx, and results are posted online.

Accuracy:The test correctly identified 100% of 40 positive samples and 50 negative samples in an analysisposted with the FDA.Those results used nasopharyngeal swabs, compared to the nasal swab used in the at-home kit. 

Price: $0 upfront,according to the company.

You can get onehere.

Business_news Rutgers University

A medical worker administers a test for coronavirus in Houston, Texas, on June 23, 2020.

REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare


The device’s official name:Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory TaqPath SARS-CoV-2-Assay

Who makes the test:The test wasdevelopedby a wing of Rutgers’ genetics institute in partnership with testing companies Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostics, according to Rutgers. It uses a collection device made by Spectrum, and samples go to the Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory in Piscataway, New Jersey,according to the FDA. The test requires parts from healthcare giants PerkinElmer and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

How it works: When purchased from testing startup Vault Health, the doctor-ordered kits are sent to people’s homes. Over Zoom, healthcare professionals supervise customers, who give the kits samples of their saliva. Results are posted within days after samples arrive at the lab.

Other distributors, including testing companiesixLayerand Vitagene, also sell the test, according to Rutgers.

Accuracy:The Rutgers testidentified100% of 60 positive and negative coronavirus samples when using swabs of saliva, according to data provided to BI by Rutgers. 

Price: $150 via Vault and $129 via Vitagene, though both allow you to pay via a health savings account or a flexible savings account.

You can get one from Vault Healthhereand from Vitagenehere

Business_news Everlywell

Everlywell’s at-home collection kit for coronavirus samples.

Everlywell


Official name:Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit

Who makes the test:Everlywell produces the kits that customers use to take samples, as well as the platform that, among other things, displays the results, a spokesperson told BI. The kits are analyzed by labs likeFulgent GeneticsandAssurance Scientific, which use different diagnostic tests, according to the FDA.

How it works: Depending on the shipping method, customers get their testing kits overnight or within 3 days. They go through a screening process, self-collect a nasal swab, and return the package to a drop-off location, according to Everlywell. The labs process them within 2 days.

Accuracy:Both tests by Fulgent andAssurancecorrectly identified 100% of coronavirus samples as positive or negative in the clinical evaluations they shared with the FDA.

Price: $109, which can usually be paid for using money in HSAs and FSAs, the spokesperson said. Everlywell also provides customers with the information they need to file claims with insurers.

You can get onehere.

Business_news Fulgent Therapeutics

Dr. Gustavo Flores takes a coronavirus swab from an ambulance booth.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian


Official name:Fulgent COVID-19 by RT-PCR Test

Who makes the test:Fulgent Genetics, the parent company of Fulgent Therapeutics, makes the test and collection kit.It’salso permittedto use another kit made by Everlywell. All samples are analyzed at Fulgent’s laboratory in Temple City, California.

How it works: Once folks complete an online screening, Fulgent’s Picture Genetics mails them a kit. They ship back their nasal swabs in a pre-labeled box. Customers can see their results online and discuss them, if desired, with a medical professional virtually. 

Accuracy:Fulgent’s test found 100% of negative and positive coronavirus samples taken with a variety of swabs, according to acompany studyon 94 specimens.

Price: $119, with the option to file for reimbursement with health plans

You can get onehere.

Business_news P23 Labs

A medical worker in a protective suit conducts a nucleic acid test for a resident.

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang


Official name:P23 Labs TaqPath SARS-CoV-2 Assay

Who makes the test: P23’s test uses parts from Thermo Fisher Scientific and works with collection kits made by testing companies Everlywell and OraSure Technologies,according to the FDAand a P23 spokesperson. Samples are tested in its lab in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

How it works: Once a clinician orders the test, it’s shipped to people’s homes. They take samples of their saliva with help from a healthcare worker online. The lab posts people’s results to a website. It’s sold by a handful of companies, including digital health companies Azova and ADx Healthcare, the spokesperson told BI.

Accuracy:The tests are 98% sensitive and 99% specific, according to the company.

Price: Between $109 and $129, depending on the kit and seller, the spokesperson said.

You can get onehere.

Business_news PrivaPath Diagnostics

LetsGetChecked technicians handle samples from patients.

LetsGetChecked


Official name: LetsGetChecked Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test

Who makes the test:PrivaPath, doing business as LetsGetChecked, makes thecollection kit, but uses the molecular test made by Hologic, according to an FDA documentand a spokesperson for the company. They’re performed in PrivaPath labs.

How it works:People fill out an online questionnaire, and doctors approve their requests. Testing packages include return labels, bags, nasal swabs, and a transport tube, according to the FDA. Once the lab gets the test, the company says that results are posted online within 24 hours. Throughout, users can track their symptoms with a mobile app.

Accuracy:Hologic’s test found 69 out of 69 positive samples and 109 out of 109 negative samples, according to thecompany’s analysison nasopharyngeal swabs.

Price:$119, though folks can file claims for reimbursement with their health plans, and LetsGetChecked is offering a 20% discount.

You can get one here

Business_news Phosphorus Diagnostics

People receive nucleic acid tests following a new outbreak of coronavirus disease in Beijing on June 24, 2020.

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins


Official name:Phosphorus COVID-19 RT-qPCR Test

Who makes the test:Phosphorususes a kitmade by OraSure Technologies to collect samples from customers, according to a spokesperson for the company; they’re run in a Phosphorus lab in Secaucus, New Jersey, with tests made in-house.

How it works: People can order the tests online after completing a questionnaire, which is reviewed by a doctor within 24 hours, the spokesperson said. Tests are shipped after approval andwork via saliva samples. Physicians can chat about people’s results with telemedicine.

Accuracy:97.1% sensitive and 98.2% specific, according to the company

Price: $140, though people can seek reimbursement from their health plans

You can get onehere

Business_news Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States

A healthcare worker handles blood samples that were collected from residents in Ahmedabad, India, on June 24, 2020.

REUTERS/Amit Dave


Official name:KPMAS COVID-19 Test

Who makes the test:KPMAS, a health plan that’s part of California-based Kaiser Permanente, makes the collection kit andruns the testsin a laboratory in Rockville, Maryland. The tests themselves, however, aremade by Roche.

How it works: KPMAS can send the kit to eligible members of the health plan, or have them pick it up, according to the FDA. It’s used with supervision from a healthcare worker over video. Peopleinsert swabsinto their noses to get samples, then place them in a tube, and ship it with FedEx. Results are posted to kp.org.

Accuracy:Roche’s PCR test found 100% of the 50 positive samples and 100% of the 100 negative samples tested in the company’s evaluation using nasopharyngeal swabs, anFDA filingshows.

Price: Unspecified, though Kaisernotes that testing is available at no cost to members.

How to order: KPMAS kits have to be arranged by aprovider.


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