As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its fourth year, a negative result on a plastic at-home test feels less comforting than it once did. These tests require a quick swab of the nose and produce results within 15 minutes.
You can purchase a kit from many big-box retailers, and most insurance plans reimburse you for up to $12. Look for a EUA from the FDA, which indicates that the kit has been approved as safe.
Unlike other lab tests, this one doesn’t require any invasive bloodwork. Instead, you simply swab your cheek and send the sample to a laboratory for processing. The company claims that it will use your sample to provide a wellness report tailored to your unique genetic makeup. The test will also tell you whether or not your body can properly process certain vitamins and minerals.
After the test is complete, the company will provide you with personalized diet, supplementation, and exercise recommendations, along with an ancestry report. These reports are based on scientific research and include detailed explanations of each supplement recommendation. They also identify dietary considerations such as lactose and gluten sensitivities.
These suggestions, however, do not take into account other gene variants that may affect your ability to absorb nutrients or react to certain medications. For instance, some variants prevent your body from properly handling carbs, even healthy ones like whole grains.
While the company’s website claims that it will keep your data private, a security breach in 2019 left thousands of user files exposed online. The company has since updated its security protocols to prevent further breaches. Additionally, customers have complained that the company’s recommendations are too general and vague. They also have limited health tests that you can choose from, and their ancestry test is not as comprehensive as other competitors.
DxTerity is the only at-home test available right now that’s FDA-approved for use with saliva. That means it’s one of the most convenient options for people who want to get tested, but who aren’t willing to venture out and wait in line at a testing center or take a nasal swab at work. DxTerity’s kit is available for purchase on Amazon, and it’s easy enough to administer at home. Just put the saliva sample in a FedEx return label, and it’ll be sent back to the lab for testing within four days.
Popular Science tested DxTerity’s COVID-19 kit to evaluate ease of use, and it was definitely a breeze to use (provided you have access to a FedEx drop box). But there are a few important drawbacks. First, it costs $110 up-front and isn’t guaranteed to be reimbursed by your insurance. Second, the accuracy isn’t great. In fact, it’s estimated that 15% of people who take the test without symptoms won’t be correctly identified as having a positive sample.
Overall, though, DxTerity’s test is still a big step forward in making COVID-19 testing more widely available. And its ability to be purchased on a platform like Amazon is a huge plus for people who want to know their status but aren’t sure where to start. Ideally, we need a more affordable and accurate at-home test that’s available to everyone.
3. BD Veritor
The BD Veritor at home test is an antigen test that uses a swab to detect proteins of the coronavirus. It has a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 99.5%, which means it will detect most infected people but may also give one or two false positives out of 1,000 non-infected individuals. It takes about 15 minutes to get results and is available for US residents at Amazon. The kit comes with two tests that should be taken within 48 hours of each other for more accurate results.
The test is simple to use. Read the instructions on the swab application and follow the prompts on the BD Veritor system reader. Scanning the operator ID and kit lot number starts the test analysis. Once the countdown timer ends, a result will appear on the screen and is stored in the system. The swab should be removed from the BD Veritor Plus Analyzer and properly disposed of before a new swab is added.
The BD Veritor at home test kit is an option for businesses, schools and other institutions to offer employees, students and other community members a way to take a proactive approach to the pandemic by detecting possible infection with COVID-19. It’s a molecular test that produces results more quickly than the antigen tests above and can be used by anyone age 2 and up. Results are digitally displayed on a smartphone app and include a definitive “positive” or “negative” answer rather than ambiguous lines. It’s reimbursable and FSA/HSA eligible.
4. GE Healthcare
GE’s healthcare division, which is a significant chunk of the company, provides transformational technologies for better healthcare around the world. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery and biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, GE’s solutions are taking on big challenges that improve lives.
For example, GE’s Oregon Capacity System is a display that shows key hospital indicators including a live tally of critical-care beds, the status of those beds (e.g. if they’re being used or not), the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital and more. This is designed to help frontline staff to manage a limited number of resources, which could be helpful during a pandemic.
The company also launched a new point-of-care ultrasound system that uses AI to make it easier for clinicians to interpret images. It’s the smallest in its Venue line and has a smaller footprint to allow it to maneuver inside crowded COVID-19 wards. It can detect subtle abnormalities and flag them for further investigation.
Finally, GE’s Lighthouse knowledge management solution is reducing its customer service call center’s error rate and cutting the learning curve for new agents by half. This is particularly important for its healthcare customers, where an error can lead to a patient being put on hold or even to death. GE’s Lighthouse system can make work instructions available in three clicks or less for these customers.