At-Home Coronavirus Testing Could Be Coming Soon

Tech startups want to provide self-swab kits, but the FDA has stepped in

Emily Mullin
Elemental
Published in
5 min readMar 25, 2020

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Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

YYou may soon be able to swab your nose at home and send the sample away to get tested for coronavirus without having to leave your couch — if U.S. government officials allow it.

Last week, a handful of telemedicine companies announced plans to make at-home collection kits available to patients suspected of having Covid-19. Tech startups like Nurx, Carbon Health, and Everlywell were set to ship thousands of at-home testing kits to customers this week.

But both Nurx and Carbon Health paused sales of their tests after the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees diagnostic tests, issued a strongly worded statement on March 20 warning consumers against what it called “unauthorized fraudulent test kits.” The agency didn’t specify which companies were the target of the notice. Everlywell decided to make its tests available only to hospitals and health care providers for now.

“At this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19,” FDA officials said in the statement. They noted that these tests can pose health risks because they could keep some people from seeking proper medical care.

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Emily Mullin
Elemental

Former staff writer at Medium, where I covered biotech, genetics, and Covid-19 for OneZero, Future Human, Elemental, and the Coronavirus Blog.