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With delays in testing, hindering a country’s ability to accurately track and know new coronavirus cases, many people are now left with no other choice but to stay at home. If you have a cough or some mild aches, but would rather not go to the doctor to be examined for COVID-19, is there an at-home test kit you can use? Generally, at-home test kits seem like the solution to a desperate problem. However, this might not be that simple, and most of the tests may not be as helpful as you think – at least not yet. To properly collect a sample from the nose or mouth, you require to have some special training, plus there might be delays when shipping it to the lab, which can have an impact on the quality of the specimen. Nevertheless, where can you buy at-home test kits for COVID-19?

Who Is Selling At-Home Test Kits For COVID-19?

A couple of companies like Scanwell, EverlyWell, Carbon Health, myLAB box, and Nurx, said that they will be producing and distributing at-home test kits directly to consumers. However, the FDA issued a statement warning companies trying to distribute the kits directly to citizens saying that the test could be “fraudulent”. These companies thought they were operating within the FDA’s Emergency Use Operation guidelines, which wasn’t the case. Experts argue that for accuracy and reliability in results obtained, trained medical professionals should perform the testing. As a result, most companies have halted the distribution of the at-home test kits following FDA warning. But, EverlyWell continues to manufacture the kits, but only available to medical professionals. Also, Amazon in collaboration with the Gates Foundation announced to provide delivery and pickup services for the at-home test kits in Seattle only.

Since the kits aren’t transported through the regular mail, the Amazon’s arrangement is indeed within the FDA’s Emergency Use Operation guidelines. Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, addressed the UK parliament, informing them that they have developed finger-prick testing kits that would be released to the consumers who would buy them from Amazon. However, UK Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, went ahead to disagree with her, saying that the test needs more testing to validate its accuracy before being distributed to the public.

Saliva-Based-Kits

The FDA now has declared authorization for a saliva-based test kit developed by researchers at Rutgers University. The kit allows the patients to self-collect samples at home, which will guard the healthcare providers against exposer to coronavirus while performing the swap tests, thus decreasing the demand for PPE, which isn’t easy to come by. IHealth.io and Vault Health have come forward to say that they plan on selling the saliva test for at-home testing via supervision from a doctor through telemedicine. Note that the testing method itself is approved by the FDA, but the kits have not yet been cleared for use at home. As per the FDA’s website, nothing has changed in regards to at-home test kits even though they have authorized the saliva test. The FDA has not allowed any COVID-19 at-home test kit. They encourage the use of proper methods when dealing with coronavirus patients, and these methods should be safe and accurate.

Are At-Home Tests Accurate?

The healthcare professionals are using a specific mechanism called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to identify individuals infected with the COVID-19. According to experts, collecting and shipping such samples with accuracy isn’t a walk in the park. The PCR process can amplify segments of DNA, therefore, when applied to COVID-19, if the person is positive, it indicates the presence of the active virus in the mouth or nose. The main issue with at-home testing is that the people carrying out the procedure may not be able to do so as accurately as a trained medical expert. But, in case the at-home test kits are authorized for sale to consumers, then they can be showed how to perform the test through video training or the patient could be taken through the entire process via a video call from medical officers.

Other concerns with at-home testing include the shipping and processing of the samples through the mail. The use of mail to transport samples can damage them. Hence, you’re left with no choice but to follow the CDC’s and your own doctor’s protocols for getting tested instead of trying to order an at-home test. In case you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you must get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will be able to decide if you need testing or not.

Stay safe and sanitize regularly to avoid the spread of COVID-19!

All images by Shutterstock

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