A COVID-19 test that costs $5 and lets you know if you’ve got the coronavirus within 15 minutes will debut next month.
“It involves just a nasal swab so not a nasopharyngeal swab, just around the rim of the inside of the nose rather than tickling the brain,” said Dr. Joseph Petrosino.
So far the test is reporting an accuracy rate in clinical labs of 97 percent.
Dr. Petrosino, a molecular virologist with Baylor College of Medicine, took an independent look at the Binax Now ABBOT Rapid test rolling out in October.
He says they’re reliable, easy to use, and less vulnerable to supply chain interruptions.
“The test is just made out of cardboard and paper, it doesn’t rely on a lot of supply chain plastics or other needs that could potentially hold things up,” said Dr. Petrosino.
However, antigen tests like these have been found to produce more false negatives than lab-based tests.
Dr. Petrosino says the key is the affordability that would allow large numbers of people at schools and businesses to get tested more frequently, isolating potential outbreaks.
“What’ll happen is you’ll have a band that appears if you’re positive as well as a band that relates to whether or not the test worked itself,” said Dr. Petrosino.
There’s also a free app that works in conjunction with the test.
It allows people to display their results in places where negative tests may eventually be needed for entry, such as schools, workplaces, or large events.
Last week, President Trump said the federal government will buy 150 million of the tests to distribute across the country.
Fifty million are expected to be available to purchase in October, but folks interested will need to get them at a medical clinic, at least for now.
“Currently, you can’t get this test directly, but in the future, you may be able to,” said Dr. Petrosino.