Experts believe that testing is one of the most critical paths to freedom from the coronavirus. Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer of the American Heart Association, says that virus testing leads to quick identification of cases and treatment for infected people along with immediate isolation to prevent spread.
In a recent article, Dr. Sanchez explained that another type of testing also is important. Antibody tests pinpoint those who may have been infected in the past. Both types of tests are invaluable for tracking the spread of the disease and provide health officials with tools to prevent and contain the spread of any communicable disease.
Dr. Tod Cooperman, president and founder of ConsumerLab.com, says his clients have been asking for clarification and information about these tests and where they can get them.
“There has been a lot of confusion about the tests,” he said. “The Food and Drug Administration has reported that some test developers have falsely claimed their tests are FDA approved or authorized and that many commercial tests are performing badly.”
The FDA has permitted the use of over 60 virus tests. The majority need to be performed on a sample collected in a medical setting, but there are authorized at-home sample collection kits available for the virus. “Although you can ask your doctor for a virus test, you may be able to get a free virus test from your state or local government,” says Cooperman.
Here are some examples of testing programs around the country:
- Project Baseline works with community-based screening programs in several states to offer free virus testing. You need to fill out an online questionnaire and, if accepted, will be given an appointment at a local testing center.
- Rite Aid Pharmacies, in some locations, are working with Project Baseline.
- CVS offers drive-up, rapid testing with results in 30 minutes. Patients must pre-register online and qualify. Testing is only drive-through — no walk-ups.
- Walgreens also offers drive-up testing in which you perform your own nasal swab. Your sample is sent to a laboratory and you receive results within 24 hours.
- At-home sample collection. Pixel by LabCorp asks users to collect their own nasal swab samples and mail them to LabCorp for testing. This product costs $119 and no prescription is necessary, although you will need to meet their screening criteria.
- Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory allows users to collect their own saliva sample using a special collection device before returning it to Rutgers for testing. You do need a prescription for this test.
Cooperman notes that many laboratories have received FDA approval to conduct antibody tests which appear to be very accurate, according to his company’s evaluation. He adds that the FDA has not approved home kits for antibody testing, although they are available in other parts of the world and some have been sold in the U.S.
- Local healthcare providers can arrange for you to have an antibody test if needed. Many urgent care providers can also arrange for antibody testing for a fee, which may be covered by insurance. The samples are sent to a laboratory, so it can take a few days to get the results.
- QuestDirect offers COVID-19 antibody tests that you buy online for $119 plus a minimal physician oversee fee. You make an appointment for a blood draw at one of the 2,200 Quest Diagnostics patient services centers, and the results are available online one or two days later.
To learn more about COVID-19 testing, visit ConsumerLab.com.
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