TAMPA, Fla. - Only about 1% of Florida’s population has been tested for COVID-19, but the scale may soon tip the other way as the very first at-home COVID-19 test gets the go-ahead from the FDA.
Anyone can use the kit to collect a personal sample and then ship it to a lab to be tested for the virus.
“We hear all the time that the thing that we’re missing is more tests, we need to have more tests out there,” said Tampa General Hospital Emergency Room Physician Jason Wilson.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorization for the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit gathers samples using a nasal swab.
In a statement, FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said, in part “…we worked with LabCorp to ensure the data demonstrated from at-home patient sample collection is as safe and accurate as sample collection at a doctor’s office, hospital or other testing site.”
“I think the idea is that LabCorp is gonna start with healthcare workers and front line responders to try and get them back in the workforce,” said Wilson.
After filling out a questionnaire, the company determines if you qualify for the test. For $119, a kit will be sent to you in the mail with everything needed to collect a sample. It’s unclear if the cost to perform the actual test is included.
You use a swab in both nostrils and then send it back to the lab.
“It’s an important step in the right direction because it gives more people access to testing,” Wilson said. “The only problem I think we’re gonna see is there’s probably going to be a little bit of delay in when you do the test at home and when you see the test results.”
LabCorp says the test is convenient and reliable.
Wilson calls it another tool in the toolbox. Saying more tests like this at-home kit is needed across the state to find out when it’s really safe to start opening schools and restaurants and going back to life as normal.
“We’re gonna have to find ways to really get testing out to the community and be very easy to access and obtain,” Wilson explained. “Probably by different modalities if we want to get to where we need to go to eventually this kind of phased back in ramp-up of our economy.”
Supplies are limited right now, so you can only buy a kit if you’re a healthcare worker or first responder. However, the company says doctors across the country can order the kit for patients to use.