Rapid at-home coronavirus tests are coming to drug stores, give results in 15 minutes


Now that vaccines are available for everyone over 16, I truly hope that everyone who is medically able to will get one. However the pandemic is not slowing down, especially among young people. Last week saw the highest global raise in cases since it began, with 5.2 million new infections. The good news is that there are some new tools coming to hopefully help stem infections. Walgreens, Walmart and CVS will have rapid at-home tests available for about $24 starting as soon as this week. The company, Abbott, got emergency authorization for their BinaxNOW test, which gives results in just 15 minutes. There’s another test coming too, at a higher price point of $39. Neither test requires a prescription.

Consumers will be able to buy rapid coronavirus tests without a prescription this week at three national chain retailers, an expansion that comes as the nation’s vaccination effort accelerates and states relax distancing requirements and mask mandates.

Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW coronavirus self-test kits will be shipped to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart locations, and also will be sold online. The two-test kit, which last month received Food and Drug Administration emergency-use authorization for serial screening, will cost $23.99, the company said.

Another rapid test made by Australia-based Ellume will be sold at CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for $38.99. It also can be purchased online or at most CVS stores in other states by the end of May.

These retail tests eliminate another barrier for people who want to test themselves without visiting a doctor or a telehealth provider. Both tests deliver results in about 15 minutes and don’t require a lab.

Both Abbott’s and Ellume’s tests are antigen screenings that are considered less sensitive than lab-based PCR tests. But some studies suggest frequent antigen testing can accurately detect when a person is infectious and most likely to pass the COVID-19 virus to others.

[From USA Today via People]

We’ve had at-home coronavirus tests for some time. I took one a few months ago from a company called Lets Get Checked, but I had to mail it in and it cost over $100. Those tests are more sensitive but obviously they take a few days. I tried to figure out how accurate the BinaxNow test is and results vary. It’s apparently better at detecting symptomatic cases than asymptomatic ones, and can miss up to 2/3 of asymptomatic cases. So if someone has been exposed to another person with covid, the best thing to do is to isolate even if an at-home test comes up negative. This should just be a first step in getting a diagnosis, and people should confirm their result with a doctor. It looks like schools have been using these tests for some time to ensure that students are safe. Now that they’re commercially available, I hope they are not misused by unvaccinated people to party and hang out in groups. People who are still doing that usually don’t care enough to get tested first though.

I truly hope we won’t need these type of tests within a few months, and that we’ll have enough people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. The fact that half of all adults have received at least one dose in the US is promising. However I know that’s unlikely, especially given all the people who are refusing to get vaccinated or wear masks. My mom told me they’re wearing their stupidity right on their faces, so I’m trying to think of it that way. Also that I’m vaccinated now and I need to chill.

Here’s how the test works. It looks pretty easy.

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This post was not sponsored or encouraged. I just wanted to talk about this. Photos via Instagram and credit: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

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12 Responses to “Rapid at-home coronavirus tests are coming to drug stores, give results in 15 minutes”

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  1. CathyH says:

    I’m glad there will be easily accessible and affordable at home tests, but I hope this doesn’t stop people from getting vaccinated.
    I got my second shot yesterday. Already I feel safer and ready to get back to normal.

    • (The OG) Jan90067 says:

      Thing is, even at this price point, most of the people out there (grocery, store, delivery workers etc) will find it way too expensive to keep testing on a regular basis (which is the only way to curb this for younger people, who are starting to fill the movies, restaurants and bars again). Even parents wanting to use it for their kids going back to school/sports will find it prohibitive: multiple kids, every week or two… they’re not going to buy it.

      Until they bring it down to about $5 per kit, with subsidies for low-income earners, it’s not going to be used that much.

  2. Case says:

    This makes me a little nervous — rapid tests carried out by labs on-site at events have been quite unreliable. People are going to take these tests and assume they’re fine when they might not be.

  3. Lauren says:

    In Italy, starting from May we will be getting a similar product at a very low price point (6€ to 8€) and from what I’m reading they seem to be very good, but the authorities are not sure that people will be able to use them correctly generating false-negatives and thus creating a whole bunch of chaos. It requires that in case of a positive result you contact your physician and have another swab done by a professional so that you can know 100% if the results are correct and so you can be put in quarantine, and I don’t trust people to do that, and it is scary that they are giving that responsibility to people that I’m sure will abuse it. That aside they don’t talk about results for asymptomatics and that is even more worrisome.

  4. Tootsie McJingle says:

    Ironically enough, I work at a child care center that is on the main Abbott labs grounds and we only accept children of Abbott employees. As Abbott contractors, I have been getting this BinaxNOW 15 minute test twice a week for the last 7 months or so, as they are requiring all employees and contractors to do so. So far, every test has been negative, but I’ve also had no Covid symptoms. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out in the general public!

  5. Lily P says:

    We have had the same sort of thing in the UK – you can get I think 7 free tests once a week. Personally it’s been quite a nice added safety blanket and reassurance on top of other covid measures due to caring duties, especially now people are back at bars, work and schools etc.

  6. bgirl says:

    We already have those tests in Germany. In the early stage of mandatory quick testing/selftesting (before you go shopping, to the hairdresser or the like) they were expensive, now you can get them for 5/6 $. They are easy to use, even for children. I use them before I visit my mother or we visit someone for dinner. Works fine, a good additional tool together with masks, physical distance and washing your hands…

  7. samipup says:

    I wonder, how having positive results works though. You would still need to get checked several times in a ten or fourteen period. Not sure rules have changed. A positive will have to be reported to the CDC for facts and data collection. We use these at the LTC and Rehab. I work at. Also send results to CDC.

  8. Joanna says:

    I bought some at home covid tests from emed. Have not used them, I thought I was going to need it. Just got my 2nd shot of Pfizer vaccine. I bought these tests several months ago before the vaccine was available. I read you would need negative COVID test results. These you can do at home. You do the test while you are watched on Webcam and the results are uploaded to their database and you can access the results on their app to show as needed. You need a negative covid test within 3 days of your flight back into the US.

  9. Kkat says:

    I just wonder how accurate these will be (spoiler:not very probably)
    We don’t trust the rapid tests at all in my hospital and they are being given by trained professionals.
    We just assume everyone we do procedures on are positive since there is a good 60% false negatives with the initial rapid test.
    So when we do surgery we always prep them as if they are positive and we take covid positive precautions during.
    ( Which sucks since we are wearing n95 and two surgical masks in addition plus a shield plus goggles and then full gear, it get really hot and stuffy)
    It’s great to have more accessible tests, but they need to lower the price point at the very least.
    But people can’t trust these

  10. N0body says:

    I love this however at the same time it gives me Theranos / Elizabeth Holmes vibes.

  11. Jillie says:

    Welp, there goes more jobs. I do covid testing at CVS and our hours have been cut dramatically.