The FDA has finally approved an at-home COVID-19 test

The shelter-in-place and lockdown orders many of us have followed these past couple of months haven’t been easy. We can’t visit our friends and families. We can’t visit our favorite restaurant (unless we’re getting takeout). Many of us can’t even earn a living.

But one thing is for sure, it will be next to impossible to safely lift these orders until we have access to COVID-19 testing on a mass scale. We need a way to quickly know who’s currently infected, who already has antibodies due to past infection, and who can safely return to some level of normalcy without putting themselves and others at risk.

The good news is, we are one big step closer to having the type of testing we’ll need to get our country up and running again. The FDA just approved the first at-home COVID-19 test.

We may finally have a way to ramp up COVID-19 testing

A diagnostic company called LabCorp just got their at-home COVID-19 test approved by the FDA. The test would involve swabbing your own nose and sending the sample back to the lab for results.

Now, if you or anyone you know has been tested for COVID-19, you may know that medical staff has been doing some intense nose swabbing during these tests. I heard one person who got tested say that the nurse stuck the swab so far up her nose that she felt it in the back of her throat. For this at-home test, however, you wouldn’t have to swab that extremely.

Simply swirling the cotton swab inside your nose should do the trick. And the results should be just as accurate. The FDA conducted a study to see if self-swab tests like this produced as accurate results as those performed by medical staff, and they did.

Related: Protecting yourself from ‘silent spreaders’ of the coronavirus

Now, this isn’t the first company to create an at-home COVID-19 test. A month or so ago, a number of companies tried to release similar tests but got knocked down by the FDA. So, LabCorp is the first company to get the FDA’s seal of approval.

Another big question that’s probably on your mind is, how much will the test cost?

The test will cost $119. But it will only be available by a doctor’s orders, so you’ll still need to meet certain criteria, like specific symptoms, before getting one. LabCorp’s plans to make the tests available to people in most states in the coming weeks. Of course, health care workers and first responders will get first priority.

Hope is on the horizon

Right now, only about 147,000 COVID-19 tests are being performed in the U.S. per day. That number needs to be far higher if we want to beat this virus. Hopefully, the FDA’s approval of this at-home test is a step in the right direction.

I know it’s hard to be patient right now. We’ve been stuck in our houses for months and there’s not an immediate end in sight. But stay positive, stay strong and keep social distancing. Progress is being made, even if it isn’t as fast as we wish it could be.

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Sources:

  1. First at-home COVID-19 testing kit authorized by the FDA — The Verge.
  2. Study behind updated FDA guidance shows self-swab tests are as effective as those done by clinicians — Tech Crunch.
  3. Startups spar with FDA over what constitutes a home coronavirus test — STAT.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.