First at-home coronavirus test
November 18, 2020 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given an emergency green light to the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home. Lucira Health’s test kit delivers results in 30 minutes.
The FDA has cleared other tests for at-home collection of samples. Laboratories then process these samples. Lucira’s kit is the first to remove the need for complex lab tests that look for the coronavirus’s genetic material using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Lucira’s at-home test relies on similar principles by using a method called a loop-mediated amplification reaction, or LAMP. Like PCR, LAMP repeatedly copies genetic material until it reaches detectable levels, making it possible to identify the virus even when it is present at only low levels in the respiratory tract.
Users taking the test swirl a swab in both of their nostrils, then dip and stir the swab into a vial of chemical reagents. That vial is inserted into a test cartridge to processes the sample.
Within half an hour, the test cartridge will light up as “positive” or “negative.” While faster and less cumbersome than PCR, LAMP is less accurate.
Federal guidelines note that people taking the test should report the results to their health care providers, who must then inform public health authorities to help track the virus’s spread.
According to Lucira, the LAMP test can accurately detect 94 per cent of the infections found by the gold-standard PCR-based test. It also correctly identified 98 per cent of the healthy, uninfected people. California-based Lucira Health expects the test to cost $50 or less.
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