The best at-home COVID-19 tests of 2021

Dominique Michelle Astorino
·28 min read
  • Experts say at-home COVID-19 tests are crucial to controlling the spread of the virus.

  • Our top pick, the EmpowerDX Nasal Swab, is the cheapest out-of-pocket at $99.

  • The EmpowerDX test lets you bill your insurance directly, is highly accurate, and requires no symptoms or doctor's order.

  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. David Aronoff, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation.

Public health officials agree that routine COVID-19 testing in the US could significantly contribute to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. They also agree that the system for testing is largely broken.

With the lack of federal guidance, regulation, and reliable testing sites, states and counties have scrambled to figure out how to administer as many tests as they're able. This left much of the public confused about the process and began creating bottlenecks at testing sites across the country - wait times became so bad that people even resorted to paying someone else to stand in line for them.

A much-needed remedy to this issue has been the availability of at-home testing, a rapidly-emerging market created out of a vital (and growing) need. The labs and organizations responsible for at-home COVID-19 tests intend to make testing far more accessible and efficient while limiting exposure all around.

Roughly 59% of all COVID-19 transmissions have come from asymptomatic people - roughly 35% of whom spread the virus while they were presymptomatic and 24% of whom never developed symptoms, says a JAMA publication from January 2021.

This is why most experts believe that at-home testing - regardless of symptoms - is imperative.

Why use an at-home COVID-19 test?

I've included more about the importance of at-home testing at the end of this guide, but the short answer behind why someone would use an at-home coronavirus test kit is simple: to further prevent any risk of transmission. Put plainly, creating accessible and accurate at-home tests is vital to getting the virus under control.

The doctors I talked to for this guide suggest becoming a supertester instead of a superspreader - that is, to take regular tests the way you'd regularly take your temperature or check in with your symptoms. An ideal scenario would be for everyone to have tests in their medicine cabinet in order to take at least one per week.

This would also limit the exposure risks of in-person testing. In impacted areas with hour-long waits to get tested, there's a real danger of COVID-19 spreading not just to you, but to anyone you come in contact with - there are even newly reported strains that show an increased chance of infection upon exposure.

However, using a kit that's been mailed straight to your door skips this particular risk entirely. That is, as long as that at-home test works and the process is accessible.

Below are reviews of 8 currently available at-home COVID-19 tests. While I've laid out the information as clearly as possible, I highly recommend referencing the at-home test glossary to understand the technical terms below.

And with the help of our experts, I've gone into detail about what to look for in a test, the differences between antigen versus PCR tests, and how I tested each of the following kits. I've also provided some insight into the panel of experts I consulted with throughout the process of creating this guide.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best at-home COVID-19 test kits:

What else we considered:

EmpowerDX Nasal Swab

EmpowerDX_test
Dominique Astorino/INSIDER

Product Card (button)

Pros: No eligibility requirements; Cheapest to pay out of pocket (OOP); lets you bill directly to insurance; can use FSA/HSA to purchase; with insurance, repeat testing possible with no cost for you; highly accurate

Cons: None

This testing company ticked a lot of boxes. Tied for top slot on the FDA report with 180 NDU/mL (listed by their lab name, Viracor Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics), EmpowerDX is evidently one of the most accurate PCR tests you can buy. The tests are readily available and you don't need to meet any specific requirements (minimum symptoms, exposure risk) to order one.

The company actually makes two types of tests, the PCR nasal swab, which is what we're talking about here, and a mask test, which is an environmental test that we touch on later. The highly-accurate PCR nasal swab test runs $99 out-of-pocket (OOP), the lowest of the group for folks who don't have insurance. If you do have coverage, the test can be billed directly.

This was one of the main reasons why EmpowerDX's test got the top spot — since you can bill directly to insurance, you could get tested regularly without any personal financial burden or up-front costs. Almost every expert source agreed that repeat testing is ideal to control the spread of COVID-19.

Thad Mick, PharmD, vice president of Pharmacy, Laboratory Services and Imaging Programs at telehealth service ZOOM+Care, who is not affiliated with the company, calls this "a great option" and said, "it is likely one of the more reliable choices alongside Pixel."

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Nasal swab or mask
OOP cost: $99
How to pay: Bill insurance directly, FSA/HSA, or OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: None
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: 180 NDU/mL
Result delivery: Email and online, 24-48 hours once lab receives
Shipping: FedEx

LabCorp Pixel

Pixel by LabCorp Covid Test
Pixel by LabCorp

Product Card (button)

Pros: Lets you billing directly to insurance; can use FSA/HSA to purchase; with insurance, repeat testing possible with no cost for you; highly accurate

Cons: Eligibility requirements; more hoops to jump through for future testing; unconfirmed accuracy

Many already know LabCorp well as their brick-and-mortar labs is where your doctor often sends you to run basic blood tests. It was also one of the first labs on the scene for at-home COVID testing. The Pixel is a PCR test collected via a nasal swab. The biggest perk of this test is that it can directly bill your insurance company; out of pocket it will run you $119.

However, it loses points because of lack of accessibility — you must meet specific requirements to be eligible to order, including exhibiting mild symptoms or having a doctor request, as well as not having too severe of symptoms. If you have, say, a 102℉ fever, the site will block you from purchasing and direct you to seek your healthcare provider. In the bigger picture, this is good since it tells you to seek medical attention ASAP. But the browser saves your information. That means if your circumstances change (like your fever breaks the next day), you cannot go back in later to purchase a kit without clearing cached or opening an incognito window.

We also could not find the NDU/mL measurement to determine the accuracy of this PCR nasal swab. LabCorp uses FedEx, so you'll need to find a FedEx near you or schedule a pickup.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Nasal swab
OOP cost: $119
How to pay: Bill insurance directly, FSA/HSA, or OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: Y
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: TBD ("under interactive review" per FDA)
Result delivery: online, 24-48 hours once lab receives
Shipping: FedEx

LetsGetChecked

Lets Get Checked Covid Test
Lets Get Checked

Product Card (button)

Pros: Covered by most insurance; can pay with FSA/HSA card; highly accurate test; medical consultation included; fast shipping included

Cons: Requires you to pay OOP and then get reimbursed by insurance; eligibility requirements

This test runs at $119, which is the same price as many on our list. But instead of billing directly to insurance, you have to pay out-of-pocket upfront and then invoice your insurance company to be reimbursed (although it does allow you to use your FSA/HSA card, which is nice for those who have it). But, as far as we know, this is the most accurate of the OOP-then-reimburse category at 720 NDU/mL sensitivity.

And the higher price tag does come with extra perks: Once you send your LetsGetChecked test back and receive your results, your purchase includes a video conference with a nurse or "medical expert" for further advice — so you're not totally on your own for interpreting the results or dealing with symptoms.

The company uses UPS Express Shipping (2 days) and has an app where you can access your results. For some, this makes the test results easier to access, but for others, an app just complicates things.

In order to purchase a test, you do have to go through an eligibility assessment (and state that you have mild symptoms and/or exposure), and you will be blocked from ordering if you have severe symptoms and directed to seeking medical attention.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Nasal swab
OOP cost: $119
How to pay: FSA/HSA, or OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: Y
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: 720 NDU/mL
Result delivery: mobile app, 24-72 hours once lab receives
Shipping: UPS

EmpowerDX Mask Test

EmpowerDX mask test
EmpowerDX

Product Card (button)

Pros: Cheaper OOP for four people to get an initial screening; no eligibility requirements

Cons: Doesn't confirm infection or contagiousness; unclear if insurance will cover

This kit is from the same company that makes our top nasal swab test, but is a different kind of test than everything else on our list: EmpowerDX's mask kit is an environmental assessment, meaning it checks if there has been exposure to the virus in your environment. They send you four disposable masks which you and everyone in your family or quarantine pod wear for four hours, then package them up and ship them back like you would a saliva test or nasal swab.

For a family of four, or a "quarantine pod" of four, this option allows everyone to ensure they're still in a COVID-free environment. If it turns out that your environment has been compromised, the PCR nasal swab is the next step. But starting with the mask test is cheaper than four nasal swabs if you're looking to get tested because someone in your pod may have been exposed.

This may be a cost-effective way to test your environment for SARS-CoV-2 virus, mainly if you don't have insurance, you live or work in a shared space, and you're looking to test regularly. At $99, you'll receive four masks to share with a small office staff, family, or "pod." It's important to note that this is not a clinical diagnostic test and should not be your first line of testing if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Another consideration is that because this is not a diagnostic test, results are not tied to your medical record.

Type of test: Environmental
Collection: mask
OOP cost: $99
How to pay: OOP
Reimbursable: TBD
Requirements to buy: None
FDA EUA: N/A (environmental test)
Accuracy: N/A
Result delivery: Email and online, 48 hours after lab receives, between Tuesday and Saturday
Shipping: FedEx; return: Overnight Fedex
Delivery time: 1-2 days in a Tuesday-Saturday timeframe

What else we considered

DxTerity COVID 19 Test Kit Registration Directions
Rick Stella/INSIDER

The above tests are the ones we find to be the most worth your money considering they're all highly reliable, offer a fast turnaround, and are covered by insurance or fully reimbursable.

However, different people have different guidelines around what's important to them, so we've gone into the same amount of detail for each test kit below. That way, you have all the information if you are, indeed, considering one of these instead.

CRL Rapid Response

Pros: Covered by most insurance; can pay with FSA/HSA card; loose eligibility requirements; fast shipping included; calls with results; saliva test

Cons: Requires you to pay OOP and then get reimbursed by insurance; less accurate than other tests

Though this is an FDA EUA approved test, this PCR test was logged at 5,400 NDU/mL on the FDA site, which means it's not as sensitive (accurate) as some of the others on this list. (Although, FWIW, some tests come back at 180,000 NDU/ml so 5,400 is not as awful as it sounds). The test runs $110 out of pocket, including overnight FedEx shipping to and from your location. That price should be reimbursable by insurance and you can use your FSA/HSA card to pay.

As with the others that ship via FedEx, you have to drop it off at a FedEx Ship Location or request a pickup with FedEx. You do have to answer questions to determine eligibility for receiving the test (including symptoms and exposure), but you're able to change your answers in order to meet requirements if you so choose.

The main perks of this option are that the results are delivered faster than some competitors thanks to the included overnight shipping (under 48 hours as opposed to 72). And the lab will call you with the information so you don't need a smartphone to access results. What's more, if you're uncomfortable with a nasal swab, this one is a saliva test.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Saliva
OOP cost: $110
How to pay: OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: Y
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: 5,400 NDU/mL
Result delivery: Phone call or online, 24-48 hours once lab receives
Shipping: FedEx

Vault Health

Pros: Lets you pay with FSA/HSA card; no eligibility requirements; medical consultation included; saliva test

Cons: Not covered by insurance; unconfirmed accuracy

Another high-priced, high-tech option is Vault's saliva test, which rings in at $119 — and is out-of-pocket or FSA/HSA card only at checkout; you can submit your receipt to get reimbursed by your insurance company. Buying a test starts with a questionnaire that asks you to declare travel. Vault Health does not screen for eligibility, making it more accessible in that regard. Once you have your kit, your sample collection is physician-supervised via Zoom, which is a nice feature given that some physicians we spoke with say saliva is a difficult sample to collect. When I tested this kit myself, the practitioner on my Zoom call helped with saliva-generating tips, including smelling vinegar or a jar of pickles (the latter did the trick for me — four quick spits and we were on our merry way).

The test is FDA EUA approved, but accuracy data is not reported yet (a rep from the company told Insider that "IBX submitted data for the reference panel and it's pending review."). Vault Health's test ships via UPS, cannot deliver to a PO Box, and must be returned to a UPS location.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Saliva
OOP cost: $119
How to pay: FSA/HSA, or OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: N
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: TBD
Result delivery: Email, 48-72 hours once lab receives
Shipping: UPS

Everlywell

Pros: Covered by most insurance; lets you pay with FSA/HSA card; cheaper than others OOP

Cons: Eligibility requirements; unconfirmed accuracy

One of the first available at home tests, Everlywell provides a nasal swab PCR for patients who meet their eligibility requirements (mild symptoms and/or known exposure). If you have severe symptoms, you'll be blocked from making a purchase and directed to your healthcare provider.

The test costs $109 out-of-pocket (or using FSA/HSA) but should be reimbursable via insurance. Two-day shipping is free, but the company also offers overnight shipping if you need your test stat. It will cost $20 extra to expedite, but then overnight shipping of the sample back to the lab is included, which means all-in-all, you're getting your results very fast. "While a viable option," says Mick, "consumers have more cost options available than paying $109 out-of-pocket." Additionally, because there is no data on the NDU/mL, it's hard to compare this against the others in this category.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Nasal swab
OOP cost: $109
How to pay: FSA/HSA, or OOP
Reimbursable: Y
Requirements to buy: Y
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: TBD
Result delivery: digitally, 24-72 hours once lab receives
Shipping: UPS

DxTerity

Pros: No eligibility requirements; widely available via Amazon

Cons: Unconfirmed accuracy; expensive up-front, out-of-pocket cost

There are two main selling points to DxTerity: It is the first at-home saliva test to gain emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing, and it's being sold on Amazon. Given its availability on the giant retailer, there is no eligibility assessment and you can use your Prime account for shipping.

This saliva PCR test runs $110 (or 10 tests for $1000) and is reimbursable through some (but not all) insurance plans. DxTerity doesn't list the insurance plans that cover this test but its site says that it is available through participating HSA and FSA plans. Reimbursements need to be filed directly to insurance providers, and the information that's required is listed at the bottom of the FAQ section on DxTerity's website. It's also noted that the American Medical Association set the reimbursement for $100, meaning you won't be able to recoup the entire $110 price tag.

According to the FDA's reference panel, this test is 3,600 NDU/mL, meaning it's not as accurate by comparison to other options in this guide.

Type of test: PCR/molecular
Collection: Saliva
OOP cost: $110
How to pay: OOP
Reimbursable: Yes, with eligible insurance (up to $100)
Requirements to buy: N
FDA EUA: Y
Accuracy: 3,600 NDU/mL
Result delivery: online, 24-72 hours once lab receives
Shipping: UPS, USPS via Amazon

What we're testing next

home testing thumb
Ellume and Abbott Laboratories expect to deliver millions of at-home COVID-19 tests in early 2021. Ellume, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Andrea Michelson

Ellume

While it's not yet available (the brand is planning to launch in the U.S. sometime in the first half of 2021), this FDA EUA-approved antigen test from Australia is on the radar of several experts we spoke with. It will require a smartphone, but you will be able to get results at home in 15 minutes with no mail-back involved. And it's only $30.

The importance of at-home testing

at home covid tests
Dominique Astorino

Testing for COVID-19 is important to help slow the spread of the virus across the US. If at-home testing makes infection status more accessible, we need more of it — plain and simple.

The experts I interviewed for this guide also noted the potential risks of in-person testing, and how at-home testing is an ideal alternative — if it's accessible. Nadia de la Houssaye, JD, healthcare litigator, attorney, partner and head of the Healthcare Industry Telemedicine Team at Jones Walker LLP in Lafayette, LA added that "the problem with free testing sites, even in areas that offer them, is that they run out of tests quickly and the lines are long."

Thad Mick, Zoom+Care's vice president of Pharmacy, Laboratory Services, and Imaging Programs, pointed out the importance at-home testing has on reducing the spread of COVID-19 among frontline workers. "As infected individuals travel to testing sites, they risk the spread of the virus at every stop. And even with PPE, frontline workers risk exposing themselves to the virus each time they test a patient."

Compared to in-person testing, these tests can provide numerous benefits. In-person tests don't provide rapid results, often taking anywhere from a few days to over a week to process and get results back to you, de la Houssaye pointed out.

Too many roadblocks in infrastructure and accessibility

Dr. Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, MSc, board-certified infectious disease specialist, medical director of public health programs and the associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center noted that accessibility of testing is crucial: "[At-home tests] should never, ever be intended to be something like a luxury, or concierge medicine," she told Insider, noting that this at-home testing approach at a luxury level would only serve to widen the gap between socioeconomic classes.

"The prices are shocking," she said. "A test that costs $110, that requires you to have a smartphone and an app, proximity to a FedEx box, transportation to a FedEx drop box ... it's for someone who has money and wants to travel without the scrutiny of a provider weighing in on their risky behavior."

De la Houssaye agreed: "The likely candidates for purchasing high-dollar at-home kits are middle-aged, middle- to upper-class people who want the testing for at-home convenience, or elderly individuals who have the means to pay and don't want to go to a testing site."

Though it's a good sign there are brands that accept insurance for their tests, or allow insurance to eventually reimburse a payment, that's still only helpful for Americans lucky enough to have insurance.

Dr. Pierre noted that ideally all of these at-home tests would be free and readily-accessible, regardless of income, location, community, and so on. "I do see these tests becoming more accessible," she added. "We've been advocating for at-home testing since March, but we need to democratize access — it's going to take time, maybe two years, to reach herd immunity with the vaccine. Vaccines are the first bright spot we've had in a really long time, but we will continue to need at-home tests."

Mick agreed that the accessibility of at-home tests should increase over the coming months. "More companies are working to get their tests to market, so we may begin to see more affordable options like the Ellume, which is expected to cost around $30 once it is available in the US," he said.

And in terms of local accessibility, this may help bridge gaps for those who live in rural areas. "Free test sites are not offered unless enough people in a geographic area have the virus," said de la Houssaye. "Hotspots have more free testing sites than rural areas with low virus counts."

At-home test glossary

There are a handful of terms that are important to understand in order to correctly interpret all the details of a test kit:

PCR vs. Antigen

There are two categories of at-home COVID-19 tests: PCR (sometimes called molecular or NAAT) and antigen. Which is best is a hot topic of debate. PCR tests are much more accurate, delivering much lower rates of both false positives and false negatives.

Antigen tests do have their upsides — namely speed and price, as a recent study from the CDC found rapid antigen tests were able to deliver results faster (15 to 30 minutes) and at a lower cost than PCR tests. However, a separate study from the CDC found antigen tests' accuracy dropped by roughly 41% for people who had COVID but were asymptomatic.

Types of collection

Most at-home tests either involve a nasal swab or a saliva PCR test. The collection is what type of sample you're giving — are you giving saliva, or a nasal swab, or your mask, or your blood?

"Recent research from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center in New York City found that the saliva tests detected the virus at a similar rate to the nasal swab," said Mick.

But Dr. Pierre noted that saliva tests can be difficult for many patients to fulfill as they require a lot of saliva. (Although some find a nasal swab uncomfortable, so it really becomes a personal preference.)

FDA EUA

In normal times, FDA approval is the gold standard we hold all medical tests to. But because that takes time and Americans needed at-home tests STAT, the pandemic gold-standard is expedited FDA-approval during emergencies (FDA EUA).

Dr. Pierre says this is still a rigorous process with high standards, but perhaps not the same level of scrutiny we see "outside of wartime" (wartime being, well… now). However, it's something you should look for on any kit you're considering because it denotes safety and efficacy (and that you're not wasting your money).

A legal note about EUA: "Any test kit that is claiming 'FDA approval' should really say 'limited approval pursuant to an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.' The test kits that are given EUA have comprehensive validation data that satisfies the FDA and supports offering a test that won't cause consumer harm and provides results that are accurate enough to support FDA thresholds. Also of importance, these FDA EUAs are only valid during the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration," says Jones Walker attorney, Nadia de la Houssaye, JD, healthcare litigator.

Product/test sensitivity

The sensitivity of a test means how sensitive or perceptive it is to even a low amount of RNA (the genetic material these tests detect) — can it detect the presence of COVID if there's only a tiny bit present? The more sensitive a test, the more accurate it is.

This is measured in nucleic acid amplification test-detectable units per milliliter (NDU/mL). Lower numbers denote more sensitivity (and therefore, more accuracy and more favorability).

Our experts said you want to look for NDU/mL as opposed to a percent (i.e., 95% sensitivity) since that isn't a truly specific measurement. Thankfully, the FDA created an entire web page outlining the NDU/mL of every available COVID-19 test.

What to look for in a test

So how do you choose the right test — and ensure you're not getting scammed by new businesses looking to capitalize on this exploding market? With so many options cropping up, we also consulted Cassandra Pierre, MD, board-certified infectious disease specialist and medical director of Public Health Programs and the associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center who has a background in HIV diagnostics and treatment and has been advocating for at-home HIV testing for the past several years.

Her metrics for picking a trustworthy test: "These tests should be low-cost, easy-to-use, and have good sensitivity, good reliability, and trustworthy results."

Other features to keep in mind are an easy ordering process; comfortable, easy-to-use self-collection instructions; and a timely result-reporting structure. It's also smart to check that the test received FDA Emergency Use Authorization (FDA EUA). This can be done by visiting the FDA website.

Insight from our medical reviewer

During the medical review for this piece, Dr. David Aronoff pointed out that although PCR tests are much more accurate at detecting the virus, they can remain positive for weeks after someone is no longer contagious. And while antigen tests aren't as sensitive, when they do come back positive, this reflects that you're more likely to be shedding a lot of inactive virus, thus making this test a better marker of a person being both infected and contagious.

Yet herein lies the problem: Antigen tests are also more likely to come back falsely negative when someone is contagious, particularly if they're asymptomatic. They are, however, much cheaper and simpler to produce compared to PCR tests.

Dr. Aronoff told Insider that deciding which test is actually best is a little tricky. Since PCR tests are extremely sensitive, is it truly helpful if a positive result doesn't necessarily mean you're still contagious? This is especially true for people without symptoms.

On the other hand, an antigen test is more likely to miss an infection, especially if you're asymptomatic, so you could be walking around with a false negative, shedding the virus unknowingly.

So, which test actually is best?

Leading researchers have pointed out that taking cheaper antigen tests regularly increases the opportunity for it to detect your virus. In this scenario, the best-case would be to use an antigen test and have it come back positive, confirming that you're infected and contagious.

But because a negative antigen test doesn't necessarily mean you're COVID-19 negative, and the whole point of taking a test is to know if you need to quarantine to minimize spreading the virus, we have to err on the side of caution and say: If you're only going to take one test, it's smarter to opt for a PCR test.

A positive result could mean you're quarantining unnecessarily, which, yes, is frustrating and inconvenient. But until we have better access to affordable, repeat antigen tests, this is far safer from a public health perspective than allowing you to go about interacting with others when you're potentially contagious.

How we tested

For this article, I intensively researched 12+ at-home COVID-19 tests. Some are not yet available (like Lucira Health and Abott BinaxNOW), while others we deemed too expensive OOP at over $150 to warrant your consideration (like the test from Phosphorus). I then tested and am continuing to test as many as possible myself; check back for updates on our first-person account of each kit.

When testing and researching what at-home test kits were worth your money, I looked at:

Gatekeeping to tests: Some tests require a pre-screening before you're allowed to order. Since doctors I spoke with emphasized the importance of asymptomatic testing to stop the spread of the virus, I wanted to know if someone could order even if they're asymptomatic and regardless of current exposure.

Ease of access to results: How easy were the results to access? Will the company simply call you with them? Or do you need a smartphone or app to get your results, since this can be a barrier for an older or financially-restricted population?

Cost and use of insurance: With growing access to free in-person test sites for most people around the country, having to pay for an at-home kit is a huge barrier, especially if you don't have insurance. I looked at how much a test runs OOP, and if you can bill directly to insurance or get reimbursed.

"The ideal at-home test would be priced for repeat testing," says Dr. Pierre, meaning you could test once a week to help control the spread of the virus.

Additionally, as anyone who has ever tried to get reimbursed by their health insurance company knows, the process can be a nightmare — so tests that directly bill insurance for you were favored. Additionally, paying out-of-pocket (even if it will be paid back) is not always an option, especially at these price points of $100 and up.

Type of test: Because PCR tests yield fewer false negatives, I only included PCR tests. See what to look for in a test for more details on PCR vs. antigen.

Approval: I only included tests that are FDA EUA approved, since this is the closest thing we have to quality and safety control at the moment.

Accuracy: How accurate is the test, according to this FDA table focused on NDU/mL? The lower the number, the higher the sensitivity of the test (aka, the more accurate the results).

Shipping: Most of these companies use either FedEx overnight or UPS express, which means you have to either have access to a dropbox location or the ability to schedule (and often pay for) a pickup for your sample. Shipping plays into both timeliness of getting your test and then getting your results, as well as overall cost, as shipping is free for some services but a fee for others.

Our panel of expert sources

We tapped a wide range of experts for this piece to help distill the incredibly complex information. Below, you'll find transparent details on every expert's background:

Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, MSc, board-certified infectious disease specialist, medical director of public health programs and the associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Pierre has a background in HIV diagnostics and treatment and has been advocating for at-home HIV testing for the past several years, so she is familiar with the science of and roadblocks to at-home tests.

Thad Mick, PharmD, is the vice president of Pharmacy, Laboratory Services and Imaging Programs at ZOOM+Care, a digital and in-person on-demand healthcare provider. He completed his doctoral studies under the combined Pharm.D program of Oregon State University and Oregon Health Sciences University.

Nadia de la Houssaye, JD, healthcare litigator, attorney, partner and head of the Healthcare Industry Telemedicine Team at Jones Walker LLP in Lafayette, LA. De la Houssaye is advising several leading COVID-19 testing labs in the country about the implementation and access to COVID-19 antibodies testing, focusing largely on patient accessibility to ensure there are as few hurdles as possible.

Read the original article on Insider