The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the FDA has approved more than 300 different COVID-19 tests and collection kits. There are three types of tests: serological (antibody) tests that detect past infection, molecular tests (RT-PCR) used for diagnostic purposes, and antigen tests that detect viral proteins in the nasal cavity.
The specific tests include point-of-care tests that return rapid results in a health care setting, pooling tests that process multiple samples at once, home collection kits that people use to collect samples at home and then send to a lab for processing, and at-home tests that allow consumers to perform the test and get the results for themselves.
If you have considered taking a COVID test at home, it can be helpful to learn about the different options available. There are currently three FDA-approved tests you can take entirely at home and several others that you can use to collect a sample and send off. Read on to find out more about several over-the-counter options, including how you take the test, how you get the results, accuracy levels and prices.
Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test
BinaxNow is a rapid antigen self-test reportedly identical to the manufacturer’s existing test that professionals have used since August 2020. It can detect both asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 for people ages 2 and older. In a clinical study, it correctly identified 84.6% of positive specimens and 98.5% of negative ones and is likely to detect the new variants. To use the test, you swab your nose, insert the swab into the test and wait 15 minutes for the test results. One line means negative and two lines mean positive.
This test is currently available online and in stores at CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart, with plans to make it available at other retailers in the coming weeks. Depending on where you shop, the price is about $20-25 for a kit with two tests.
DxTerity COVID-19 Saliva At-Home Collection Kit
The DxTerity test is a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR saliva-based test. To use it, you fill the provided tube with saliva, seal it up and ship it back to the lab for testing. The sample ships to the lab overnight, and results are available through a secure portal within 24-72 hours. Research has shown saliva tests to provide results similar to nasal swab tests, with 83% accuracy compared to 85% accuracy for the more invasive tests.
Ellume COVID-19 Home Test
The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is a rapid, lateral-flow antigen test that detects fragments of proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus using a nasal swab sample from anyone ages 2 years or older. Approved in December, Ellume was the first complete COVID-19 antigen test available for use at home without a prescription. After obtaining a sample, you insert the nasal swab into the prepared analyzer connected with your smartphone via an app. Results appear in about 15 minutes. Ellume’s test has been shown to correctly identify 96% of positive samples in individuals with symptoms and 91% in those with no symptoms.
This test is currently only available at select CVS stores. It will soon be available in CVS stores nationwide and CVS.com and other retail stores in the future for about $38.99.
Kroger Health COVID-19 Test Kit
Anyone aged 16 or older can use the Kroger Health COVID test kit at home. You collect an anterior nasal swab specimen and send it for testing with an in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) molecular test. After repackaging the kit and dropping it off at a UPS location the same day (a pre-paid shipping label is included), you will receive your lab results within 24 to 48 hours of receipt at the lab. Negative results will appear in a digital portal, while those who have positive results for an active COVID-19 infection will also receive a phone call from a licensed healthcare professional.
This test is only available through Kroger family stores and pharmacies for $99.
Lucira Check It COVID-19 Test Kit Test
Lucira is the first FDA emergency-use-authorization (EUA) single-use molecular home test. The test is authorized for self-collection for individuals aged 14 and older or adult collection for children aged 2-13. After preparing the test unit, use the provided nasal swab to collect a sample. Insert the sample into the unit, stir it around and close the lid. Positive results may appear within 11 minutes; negative results may take up to 30 minutes to appear. Tests have shown the Lucira COVID-19 test to be 98% accurate.
Currently, this test is only available through the manufacturer’s website. The cost for the test is $55 for a single-unit test.
Pixel by Labcorp COVID-19 PCR Test Home Collection Kit
Labcorp’s Pixel test was originally authorized as the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19 back in April 2020. It is a molecular test, also known as a reverse polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), that can detect the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2. After using the nasal swab to collect a sample, you send the kit back to Labcorp for testing and receive results online in one or two days. Users who have positive or indeterminate test results also have access to a free clinician consult.
This test is available through CVS and Walgreens for about $120. It is also available directly from Labcorp, which can bill your insurance or help determine whether you are eligible for federal funding to pay for the test if you meet certain criteria. You may also see it at select stores in Alabama, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
If you want to forego the step of sending away your sample to a lab, you’ll want to pick either the Abbott BinaxNOW, Ellume, or Lucira options.
Should you decide to purchase and use an at-home COVID-19 test kit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some guidance to help obtain the most accurate results. Start by washing your hands and disinfecting any surface you will use before opening the test. Don’t open the test until you are ready to use it, and check the expiration date. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, making sure to collect a specimen as directed.
The CDC also states that it is possible to receive a false-negative result, especially if the specimen was collected too early in your infection. If you are in doubt, contact your healthcare provider.