US approves at-home sample collection for virus testing

In many places, test seekers must show virus symptoms or have come into contact with an infected person. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: The US approved a DIY nasal sample collection kit for coronavirus tests on Saturday, adding to an array of at-home options for a country eager to expand its Covid-19 testing.

The Food and Drug Administration on April 21 approved a first at-home nasal sample collection kit under an arrangement that sends such samples to LabCorp, a major chain of laboratories.

On May 8 the FDA gave the green light to a test developed by Rutgers University which uses a saliva sample taken at home and sent to a Rutgers lab.

Saturday’s FDA authorisation was for an at-home nasal sample kit developed by Everlywell. The sample can then be processed with several diagnostic tests.

The kit contains nasal swabs to collect a sample and a tube of saline solution to transport it to a specified lab.

Two tests have been authorised for checking samples gathered with the Everlywell device, and others may get the green light, the FDA said.

“The authorisation of a Covid-19 at-home collection kit that can be used with multiple tests at multiple labs not only provides increased patient access to tests, but also protects others from potential exposure,” said Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Since Monday, more than 300,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out daily in the US, said the Covid Tracking Project. This is about double the rate seen in early April.

In many parts of the country, people seeking a test must show symptoms of Covid-19 or have come into contact with someone who is infected.