Where can I buy an at-home test kit for COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 13, 2020.
On April 20th, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first at-home COVID-19 test collection kit so you can test yourself at home. The test kit is made by LabCorp and is known as the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit, using COVID-19 RT-PCR technology. Your sample is returned to LabCorp to determine the result.
- This is a diagnostic test to see if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is NOT an antibody test that evaluates your immune status.
- Consumers in most states have access to the kits with a doctor's order, according to LabCorp.
- Consumers can pay $119 out-of-pocket for the test or it can be billed to insurance.
- Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit was issued under an emergency use authorization (EUA).
The FDA has warned American consumers of unauthorized fraudulent test kits being marketed to test for COVID-19 in the home. Fraudulent health claims, tests, and products may pose serious health risks and keep some patients from seeking treatment or delay medical care. If you are unsure, check with your doctor about test validity.
How does LabCorp's Self-Collection Kit for COVID-19 work?
- At-home testing for coronavirus is fairly straightforward. After completing an online health screening survey about your symptoms, and approval from a doctor, you will purchase the self-collection test kit online. The cost for at-home COVID-19 testing is $119. Check with your insurance for coverage.
- Once your order is placed, Pixel by LabCorp will send the COVID-19 test kit to your home. Instructions are included.
- The kits contains a Q-Tip-style cotton nasal swab and saline. Other swabs should not be used.
- Once your sample is collected, you mail your sample in an insulated package to LabCorp for testing.
- You’ll receive an email notification when your secure online results are ready.
- After receiving your COVID-19 results, you can talk to a licensed physician who will answer questions you may have about your results.
The Pixel by LabCorp at-home COVID-19 test kit may be right for you if you:
- Are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Live in or recently traveled to an area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19.
- Have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.
- Think you have been exposed to COVID-19.
As noted by LabCorp, self-collection will help prevent the risk of transmitting the virus to others and will lower the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) as the tests do not require a clinician to perform the collection.
Is there a rapid COVID test I can use at home?
In Nov. 2020, the first rapid COVID-19 test to be used at home with results delivered in 30 minutes was cleared by FDA the for emergency use. The nasal swab test is from Lucira Health, manufacturer in the US, and is expected to be available around the second half of 2021. The test is authorized for at-home use in patients 14 years and older; younger patients will need to have a healthcare provider perform the test.
- The test is a nasal swab and requires a prescription, which could be obtained via a telehealth visit with a doctor. The test kit is delivered via overnight mail.
- You swab your nose and stir the swab into a vial.
- The vial is then plugged into a battery-powered test cartridge that processes the sample with results in 30 minutes.
- The cartridge displays a lighted "positive" or "negative" result.
- People taking the test should report the results to their doctor, who must then inform public health authorities to help track the virus's spread.
According to Lucira Health, this test achieved a 94% positive percent agreement (PPA) and a 98% negative percent agreement (NPA) when compared to a FDA authorized known high sensitivity SARS-CoV-2 test.
- At-home collection test kits have been authorized for use in the US by the FDA. These test kits involve a nasal swab.
- The LabCorp kits are known as the Pixel COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. They can be ordered online with a doctor's approval. They are mailed back to LabCorp for test results.
- At-home kits for nasal swab collection with 30 minutes results at home are under development by Lucira Health but approved for emergency use by the FDA. These kits are expected to be available by prescription in the second half of 2021.
- The FDA states that the data shows the home sample collection is as safe and accurate as that done in the doctor's office, hospital or other testing site.
- FDA Approves First Rapid COVID-19 Test for Home Use. Drugs.com. Accessed Dec. 3, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/news/fda-approves-first-rapid-covid-19-test-home-94104.html
- Lucira Health. Accessed Dec. 3, 2020 at https://www.lucirahealth.com/
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Alerts Consumers About Unauthorized Fraudulent COVID-19 Test Kits. Accessed March 27, 2020 at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-alerts-consumers-about-unauthorized-fraudulent-covid-19-test-kits
- Brodwin E. Startups touting at-home coronavirus tests suspend plans after FDA warning. STAT. Accessed March 27, 2020 at https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/nurx-carbon-coronavirus-at-home-tests/
- Muoio D. At-home COVID-19 testing services pump the brakes after FDA warns of 'fraudulent' kits. MobiHealthNews. https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/home-covid-19-testing-services-pump-brakes-after-fda-warns-fraudulent-kits
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes First Test for Patient At-Home Sample Collection. Accessed April 22, 2020 at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-first-test-patient-home-sample-collection
- Introducing Self-Collection Kits for COVID-19 Testing. Pixel by LabCorp. Accessed April 22, 2020 at https://www.pixel.labcorp.com/blog/introducing-self-collection-kits-covid-19-testing
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