An at-home coronavirus test is now available to health care workers

March 24, 2020, 12:02 AM UTC

A hello on this challenging Monday, readers.

Apologies on the late send this evening—it’s been a pretty packed day (I’ll let you know much more about that shortly). Here’s just one of the bits of news: The testing capacity for COVID-19 is finally, if still slowly, ramping up in the United States.

Today President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and a number of other federal officials held a press conference discussing the escalating effort to address the outbreak. There was a lot to parse over the course of the discussion—but Dr. Deborah Birx, the administration’s response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, emphasized a number of new tests which are now coming onto the scene.

As we’ve explored in depth, private firms and state governments have had to step up to fill the void left by a lack of early federal government testing. That includes a Roche diagnostic that barreled its way to FDA authorization as the first commercial COVID-19 test in the U.S.—and, as Birx referenced, multiple new options which have either been cleared or poised for market use.

That includes a “point-of-care” diagnostic from Cepheid, which received an emergency FDA authorization just two days ago. Such a treatment could theoretically be conducted within 45 minutes. But, on the flip side, there are just about 23,000 machines that can conduct the test around the world.

And then there’s the at-home testing business. The diagnostic getting the most buzz is Everlywell’s kit. The company said it started selling 30,000 kits today. They’re being offered to health care workers first, and, eventually, will be available to the broader public as well—though it may have to go through a few more regulatory steps to get to that point.

One of the big questions is whether or not your average consumer is equipped to conduct such a test on themselves. The more traditional COVID-19 test kits involve some pretty deep nasal and oral swabs—so how might one know if they’re handling it correctly?

It may not be the most pleasant experience. But the lack of available options enhances the need for expanded testing capacity.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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