FDA authorizes first at-home rapid COVID-19 test

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This image provided by Lucira Health shows the Lucira COVID-19 all-in-one home test kit. The FDA granted emergency authorization on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, to the single-use test kit from Lucira Health, a California manufacturer. The test can performed entirely at home and delivers results in 30 minutes. (Lucira Health via AP)

You’ll be able to avoid waiting in line to get tested for COVID-19 after the Federal Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first at-home rapid test.

There’s a catch, though: You need a prescription.

When it comes to choosing between long lines at testing sites or testing in the comfort of your own home, Daphne Gould and Rob Guariano say the choice is easy.

“Anytime you have something at home versus waiting in a car, waiting in line … anything at home that’s proven to work – absolutely, 100% would do it,” Guariano said.

Gould agreed. “It would be convenient.”

The FDA made that a reality – sort of. The agency issued an emergency-use authorization for the first rapid at-home coronavirus test, something Dr. Michael Mina has long advocated for.

“What we really need in the U.S., I think, is to make this immensely accessible and easy to use and get it into people’s homes,” said Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Despite that, the Harvard researcher said this test doesn’t go far enough. He said they’re expensive, hard to manufacture, and you need a prescription to get one, which makes them less accessible and less convenient. He feels a better solution is already out there.

“What I want to see is a test like this. This little thing that I’m holding here that could be made at 20-million a day,” he said. “These paper strip tests again, as far as I’m concerned, are one of the only tools at the national level that we can use to make frequent testing possible.”

Mina said if the paper strip tests were sent to every home in America and people used them even just once a week, we’d catch more asymptomatic cases and bring our case numbers down.

“These tests can still, if we act appropriately starting today as a U.S. government, could still get us to have a much better Christmas.”

He said governors could also step in by declaring a state of emergency and using the paper strip tests as public health screening tools.

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