LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the lines for drive thru COVID-19 testing lengthen throughout L.A. County, there may be another solution on the horizon.
At-home COVID-19 tests are already available at regular pharmacies, including inside grocery stores. To buy a test, a questionnaire must be filled out online in advance, and the patient must have a prescription approved. Currently, the tests run around $150.
However, the newest test developed by Bay-area company Lucira Health, would be the first to give results without sending the swab to a lab — making the test much more rapid and convenient.
“I would love to take a test at home, because I have two young kids, so it would just be so much easier,” said one woman, who drove to Balboa Park and waited in a long line to get her COVID test on Wednesday.
The at-home tests will require the patient to perform their own nasal swab. The swab then goes inside a battery powered unit that gives a result within 30 minutes.
The company said it hopes to have the tests nationally available by spring for a cost of about $50.
“It’s a very exciting development,” said Elizabeth Richardson, with the Pew Charitable Trust.
Richardson researches healthcare products and how to approve regulations to protect consumers. She said the at-home tests are necessary to reduce people’s exposure, protect medical workers, save PPE, and reduce demand on labs.
But, there has been some confusion on just how much power the FDA has to regulate the tests from all of the different companies currently developing them.
“There needs to be clarity,” Richardson said. “The FDA has authority to authorize these tests during this pandemic. They are a crucial quality check.”
Richardson said at least 10 at-home collection tests have been approved by the FDA since the beginning of the pandemic.
Another problem health officials will face is making sure that people report positive tests.
“You really need to ensure that the test is run correctly,” she said.
Ahead of the holidays, Orange County leaders announced an at-home testing program for residents in high-transmission areas. Leaders said they have plans to hand out 500,000 of these tests by the end of December.