Austin startup launching first at-home test for COVID-19 next week
Responding to the short supply of COVID-19 tests around the country, Austin startup Everlywell will roll out a new at-home test for consumers beginning on Monday, March 23.
Everywell, which already offers an array of at-home lab tests, says 30,000 COVID-19 tests will be available in the initial batch. Free telehealth consultations will be provided for people who test positive for COVID-19, or the coronavirus.
As TIME first reported, this is the first U.S. company to offer at-home COVID-19 test kits directly to consumers.
“The extreme shortage of tests for COVID-19 puts millions of Americans at risk,” Julia Cheek, founder and CEO of Everlywell, said in a March 18 release. “Everlywell is committed to helping stop the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. by making this test widely available. As the national leader in at-home lab testing, we want to use our resources and expertise to help as many people as we can. We are committed to this fight, and we’re here to help.”
Working with a number of diagnostic labs, Everlywell plans to create testing and diagnosis capacity for 250,000 people per week.
Everlywell recently launched a $1 million program aimed at encouraging labs to fast-track development of an at-home COVID-19 diagnostic test. Many labs stepped up to the task, enabling Everlywell to create a COVID-19 testing and diagnosis infrastructure in a matter of days.
“Our team has been working around the clock with top scientists and laboratories in the nation to develop a test that we will make available at the lowest price possible while covering our costs, at no profit to the company,” Cheek says. “We have also reached out to government and public health officials to explore possibilities to provide it for free.”
Each test costs $135, and is covered by participating providers of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.
The test can be requested online by consumers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Samples can be collected at home, preventing further exposure for consumers and the public. All of Everlywell’s lab partners conducting COVID-19 tests comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency rules for COVID-19 testing.
“Given the high demand for testing, the company will work rapidly to make more tests available as the global supply shortage for COVID-19 diagnostic kits is addressed,” the company says.
Like Everlywell’s other tests, the COVID-19 test will be shipped to customers with everything needed to collect a test sample at home and safely send that sample to a certified lab. Samples will be shipped to labs overnight, secure online results will be available within 48 hours of the lab receiving a sample, and a free telehealth consultation with an independent board-certified physician will provided to anyone who tests positive.
Anyone seeking a test will be asked to fill out an online screening questionnaire.