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Are at home COVID-19 tests as reliable as tests done at a health care provider?

Posted at 6:09 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 18:24:21-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — At-home COVID-19 testing. Medical researchers say it's the next frontier in the battle to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

At-home tests have been on market since last spring. And just last month the Food and Drug Administration authorized the first diagnostic kit for self-testing that provides rapid results on the spot.

But despite these advances, many are still choosing to lean on traditional means of testing - with concerns over reliability and costs.

Today, I'm doing something most metro Detroiter's have never done before.

I’m taking an at-home COVID-19 test, a self-collection kit. Only 8% of those I surveyed on Twitter said they had used one to figure out if they’ve been infected by COVID- 19.

Let’s rewind for just a moment, because before sitting down to take this test, I sat down with the expert, to find out how this all really works.

People might be scared to insert it in their nose.

Dr. Charlene Brown is a Board Certified Physician and a Health Adviser to Everlywell, the first company to get authorization from the FDA for an at-home test.

She says the big draw for this kit, and for others like it--is that they don’t require a swab to go as far up the nose as what's typically seen in a healthcare setting. This lower nasal swab is way less intrusive and easier to do on your own.

“It’s a short swab,” said Charlene Brown. “You just insert it two to four centimeters in the front of your nose.”

But the appeal goes well beyond comfort.

“You can do it at your convenience,” said Dr. Prasanthi Govindarajan from Stanford University.

“And you’re not really rushing in and exposing yourself to people who may have the infection,” she added.

Dr. Prasanthi Govindarajan is an Emergency Doctor and a part of a team of Stanford Researchers that has developed Vera, its very own FDA authorized ‘at home’ test.

This, after conducting a study that determined self-swabbing tests for COVID-19 were just as accurate as those done by a medical provider and perhaps, even safer.

“It minimizes exposure of healthcare workers to people who may be infected,” said Dr. Govindarajan.

But how user friendly are they? I wanted to know.

So, I followed the detailed instructions step-by-step. Collecting the sample did feel a little strange.

It definitely makes your eyes water a little bit, but all around not too bad. Now I needed to put it into the actual collection tube.

A pretty seamless process. Pack it into another sealed tight box, followed by a pre-paid delivery slip, and the only thing left to do was send it off.

With phone updates, I was told the sample arrived at the company within 24 hours and to an FDA authorized lab shortly after.

My results were in hand within three business days.

Are there any things consumers should be looking for before selecting one of the COVID-19 tests on the market?

You want to make sure that the test has been authorized by the FDA. There are more than 25 FDA authorized home tests available.

Here’s the Rebound Rundown:

  • Prices for an at-home kit range from $100 to $150
  • As for insurance? We checked with Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and HAP- they’ll cover the cost in full, as long the test is deemed medically appropriate by a healthcare provider.

Now you’ll be asked to pay upfront and get reimbursed or have your insurance billed directly.

But either way, this is a great alternative that could save you a lot of time, and potentially even save a life.

If you have a story send us an email to rebounddetroit@wxyz.com