The very first non-prescription at-home COVID-19 test has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Washington Post reported this week. For so many reasons, this $30 kit, made by an Australian company, is a game-changer. Firstly, as USA Today notes, in trials, Ellume’s home test correctly diagnosed 95 percent of coronavirus cases and had just a 3 percent false negative rate. What that means is that most times, this test, which you can take safely without having to leave your home, will give you an accurate reading as to whether you are infected.
The other benefit of the test, consisting of a smartphone enabled nasal swab, is its speed — results are available in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, some laboratory tests can take several days, especially given skyrocketing cases and potential exposures across the country. Cutting out wait times and potentially exposing others, kids 2 years and older can take this cutting-edge rapid home test. The New York Times reports that people with or without symptoms can take the test, although it works best on those with symptoms.
The drawbacks of the test
As The Washington Post notes, one concern of the home test is that people will start hoarding a large quantity, making it harder for at-need consumers to find and purchase one for themselves.
And as former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told USA Today about the technology, “You’ve got to ask yourself if you are doing more harm than good. I think in the setting of a pandemic like this where you have a test that is otherwise pretty good, pretty sensitive, pretty specific, as long as you can educate consumers, you are probably going to do more good than harm even with a test that’s going to miss some cases.”
Finally, it’s worth noting the test is on the expensive side, but may help many people find peace of mind in knowing whether they need to self-isolate or seek additional care. The results of the home test are meant to be shared with a health care provider.
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