At-home COVID-19 testing kits soon available for purchase

Virus Outbreak Home Test
Posted at 5:31 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 19:26:40-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Along with the Pfizer vaccine getting the green light, a home rapid test for COVID-19 will soon be on U.S. store shelves.

The FDA just approved the first rapid at-home COVID-19 testing kit that consumers can buy without a prescription.

These at-home testing kits, manufactured by Ellume, will be available at pharmacies, drug stores and online sites, costing around $30.

While having quick, low-cost ways to get tested can be a good thing, there are some concerns, like accuracy.

But Dr. David Aronoff with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says it's always helpful for people to know their status.

"Having more testing available is really important during this pandemic," said Dr. Aronoff.

The test uses a nasal swab to collect a sample and produces results within minutes using a plastic device.

It requires users to download an app on their smartphone to learn their test result.

That app automatically sends data by ZIP code to regional health officials so they can learn about positive results but you don't have to provide your name and email address.

This could make contact tracing trickier.

"So we might not know who has it," said Brian Todd with the Metro Public Health Department. "So, is it bad? Inherently not bad because the whole point of contact tracing is know your status, isolate and contact those who you've been in close contact with and let them know."

Health officials agree as long as you take the proper steps with your results, that is what's important.

If you have a positive result, quarantine and monitor your symptoms.

If results come back as negative, continue to socially distance and wear a mask.

"Certainly with the antigen test like this at-home test you may be early enough in your infection that you're still negative not making enough virus to make it positive and maybe tomorrow you're positive and much more contagious," said Dr. Aronoff.

Ellume says it will have 3 million tests available in the U.S. next month.