At home COVID-19 tests headed to pharmacies

A Healthy You

This morning news of the first rapid at home COVID test that gives results in 15 minutes will be available nationwide at pharmacies.

Abbott Laboratories announced they are shipping “Binax Now” tests to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart to be available later this week without a prescription.

The “Binax Now” test which like many other COVID tests has received the FDA’s ’emergency use authorization’ will be sold in a 2-pack costing $23.99 and is being hailed as a breakthrough in availability, speed and cost of testing.

Dr. John Brownstein, epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital: “While we might think this might be a little late for these tests to become available, we have significant transmission occurring in the community. And so with even vaccine rolling out, getting access to these tests is supercritical, critical. The quick results from these rapid tests can help people decide immediately about what to do and whether they should isolate.”

Why is this a big deal? Previously most at-home tests had to be mailed to a lab and results could take up to 72 hours.

But these new at home tests give you results in just 15 minutes. For anyone in the household two years-old and up.

Patients perform a nasal swab, then put the swab in treated paper and reagent solution which is included in the test kits.

But these are antigen tests, with an accuracy estimated to be about 15 percent lower than the gold standard, PCR tests.

Dr. John Brownstein: “There’s no prescription needed over the counter. No health care provider or lab is needed. With these tests, we hope that they can be sort of an important weapon in finally getting to the end of this pandemic.”

And in addition to the widespread over the counter availability of these new tests, a huge issue is price. At home PCR tests have cost upwards of $100.

So with this 2 pack pricing out at $12 a test, this may be the widespread testing breakthrough public health officials have hoped for.

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