FDA approves first at-home COVID-19 test that delivers results in 30 minutes without sending sample to a lab

 US regulators have approved the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home and delivers results in 30 minutes.

The single-use test kit from Lucira Health allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample, which is then swirled in a vial of laboratory solution that plugs into a portable device. Results are displayed as lights labeled positive or negative.

The Food and Drug Administration announced that it had approved the test for emergency use on Tuesday, marking an important step in US efforts to expand testing options for COVID-19 beyond health care facilities and testing sites. However, the test will require a prescription, likely limiting its initial use.


To date, the FDA has authorized nearly 300 tests for coronavirus. The vast majority require a nasal swab performed by a health professional and must be processed at laboratories using high-tech equipment. 

A handful of tests allow people to collect their own sample at home - a nasal swab or saliva - that's then shipped to a lab, which usually means waiting days for results.

'This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,' FDA Commissioner Stephen M Hahn said in a statement.

'Today's action underscores the FDA's ongoing commitment to expand access to COVID-19 testing.'

The Food and Drug Administration announced approval for Lucira Health's rapid coronavirus test on Tuesday. The test kit allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample, which is then swirled in a vial of laboratory solution that plugs into a portable device (pictured)

The Food and Drug Administration announced approval for Lucira Health's rapid coronavirus test on Tuesday. The test kit allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample, which is then swirled in a vial of laboratory solution that plugs into a portable device (pictured)

Health experts have called for options to allow people to test themselves at home, reducing turnaround times and the potential spread of the virus to others, including health care workers. 

Rapid test results are critical to quickly quarantining those who are infected and tracing their contacts. But for months, US testing has been plagued by slow results due to bottlenecks as testing laboratories. 


'Now, more Americans who may have COVID-19 will be able to take immediate action, based on their results, to protect themselves and those around them,' Dr Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA's devices center, said in a statement.
There are other rapid tests but most require a small, special machine operated by a health professional to develop results. 

Lucira did not immediately respond to a request for additional details after business hours Tuesday.


The Lucira COVID-19 test grew out of research the company was doing to develop an at-home flu test, according to the company's website. Lucira adapted its technology to detect COVID-19 after the outbreak.

The test uses technology similar to genetic laboratory-based tests that are the standard tool for COVID-19 screening. That's different than most rapid tests currently used in the US, which look for viral proteins called antigens - not the virus itself.

Anyone that tests positive should isolate and seek care from a health professional, the FDA said in its release. Those who test negative but still have coronavirus symptoms should consult a doctor; a negative result does not rule out COVID-19 infection.

The FDA said Lucira's test was also authorized for use in doctor's offices and testing sites. Currently all US testing sites must report results to state and federal health authorities tracking the pandemic. Doctors will be required to report the home test results.

'If the results are not reported back, it may be difficult to figure out what is happening in the community at large,' said Dr Alberto Gutierrez, former head of the FDA's testing office, in an interview before the announcement.

The FDA has authorized nearly 300 coronavirus tests to date - the majority of which require a nasal swab performed by a health professional and must be processed at labs using high-tech equipment. Pictured: Medical workers administer screenings at a testing site in San Francisco

The FDA has authorized nearly 300 coronavirus tests to date - the majority of which require a nasal swab performed by a health professional and must be processed at labs using high-tech equipment. Pictured: Medical workers administer screenings at a testing site in San Francisco

Health experts have called for options to allow people to test themselves at home, reducing turnaround times and the potential spread of the virus to others, including health care workers. Pictured: People line up for coronavirus tests in New York City in April

Health experts have called for options to allow people to test themselves at home, reducing turnaround times and the potential spread of the virus to others, including health care workers. Pictured: People line up for coronavirus tests in New York City in April 

More than two dozen companies have been racing for months to develop the first, rapid home-based test for COVID-19. However, the FDA outlined a number of study requirements for manufacturers.

These hurdles have less to do with COVID-19 specifically, and more to do with decades-long concerns about whether people without any medical training can accurately screen themselves and interpret the results.

The FDA has only ever approved one home test for an infectious disease - an HIV test. And even commonplace over-the-counter tests- such as home pregnancy kits - were subject to years of scrutiny before FDA allowed their use in the 1970s.

Experts say that careful approach is warranted for coronavirus.

'I think increased testing closer to patients, including in the home, is the way of the future,' said Dr Robin Patel of the Mayo Clinic, in an interview before the announcement was made. 

'But there are considerations that have to be addressed to make sure that this is done in a safe and effective way.'

FDA regulators authorized the new test using their emergency powers to quickly speed the availability of experimental products during public health crises. 

In normal times, the FDA requires evidence of safety and effectiveness before clearing a new test. But during public health emergencies the agency can lower those standards.

The FDA release did not disclose the test's accuracy or the study results that regulators used to make the decision.

FDA approves first at-home COVID-19 test that delivers results in 30 minutes without sending sample to a lab FDA approves first at-home COVID-19 test that delivers results in 30 minutes without sending sample to a lab Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:37 Rating: 5

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