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Home Self-Testing for COVID-19 Available to Public in Coming Weeks: Here's How It Works

05-05-2020
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Drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Photo: CBN News)
Drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Photo: CBN News)

It's clear that increasing testing for COVID-19 is the critical piece to get the country back to business.

One option is a self-test done at home, which the Food and Drug Administration has now okayed.

We've all seen reports of long lines and frustration from consumers as they waited for drive-through testing. Part of that is due to the test requirements.

"We have a three-stage process where we are doing a verbal triage to see what their symptoms are, see if they meet criteria for the testing," Paul Gaden, president of Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, told CBN News. "And if they do, then they will be registered, seen by a provider, and then they will have the test done."

Another option in several states is called a drive-up self-swab nasal test offered at drug stores like Rite Aid, overseen by their pharmacists.

Now there's an opportunity to test yourself at home. The FDA approved a diagnostic test designed by LabCorp.
           
"It's very easy and safe to perform," Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, said on CBS This Morning. "Our data show that it's as accurate as having it performed in the doctor's office or in a clinic."

"They can perform the test; put it in the tube of saline, and overnight it back to the lab, and then get the results thereafter from LabCorp," he continued.

CBN News reached out to LabCorp. The company did not respond to our inquiry, but it did release a statement, saying the self-test will help prevent the risk of transmitting the virus to others, and it will also reduce the demand for personal protective equipment because a clinician is not required.

LabCorp will make the kits initially available to frontline healthcare workers and first responders. Its goal is to make the tests available to the public "in the coming weeks."

The $119 price tag could be an issue, but LabCorp says it will work with customers and health insurance companies so folks don't have to pay upfront.

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LabCorp also notes that its at-home test "does not detect antibodies or immunity." CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson explained the difference.

"Because the antibody test, a lot of people are confused about it because you hear testing, testing," she said. "There are two main tests; one of them is the test to see if you have COVID-19 right now; the other is the antibody test, also called the antigen test, which tells you whether you ever had it."

"And that is so important because an estimated 60 percent of people who had COVID-19 had no symptoms; they never even knew they had it," Johnson continued.   

If you test positive with an antibody test, she said you probably now are immune to COVID-19. But that hasn't been proven yet.

Still, doctors believe people with antibodies may be key to treating the most critically ill. That's why some former patients are donating blood plasma after they recover.

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