Kroger plans to offer 15-minute COVID-19 tests to customers nationwide

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Kroger announced plans on Tuesday to offer its customers nationwide a COVID-19 test with results in 15 minutes at home. This is part of an effort to increase the availability of tests as the country continues its mass vaccination campaign.

The test, whose emergency approval is pending from the US Food and Drug Administration, is carried out with a smartphone app and a “lateral flow assay”, which is similar to a pregnancy test at home. Patients follow the video instructions in the app to collect a nasal swab, which is included in the kit. The app then prompts the user to scan the test after 15 minutes to display the result.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, health experts have emphasized the need for quick, widespread home testing so people can examine themselves and avoid contact with others when they have an infection. However, the vast majority of tests still require a nasal swab to be performed by a health worker and processed in high-tech laboratories.

The rapid test was developed by computer vision-focused healthcare company Gauss and submitted to the FDA for approval in late fall 2020.

The COVID-19 rapid test, which can be done entirely at home, was developed by computer vision-focused healthcare company Gauss and has yet to be approved by the FDA for emergency use. (Photo credit: Kroger)

“Based on the results of a clinical study presented to the FDA in support of the EUA application for solutions, the test solution showed a 93% positive agreement and a 99% negative percentage agreement compared to highly sensitive, emergency-approved PCR Testing.” the company said in the announcement.

Kroger Health, the health division of the supermarket giant, anticipates the home test will be available on and over-the-counter at its 2,200 pharmacies across the country, if approved.

Kroger operates more than 3,000 stores in the United States, including Harris Teeter, Ralph’s, and the retail hospital chain The Little Clinic. It is one of a number of retail pharmacies selected by the federal government to help distribute coronavirus vaccines to help contain the pandemic as soon as possible. The company said it had administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines as of February 5 – and is offering $ 100 to all employees who receive the vaccine.

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Kroger previously received approval for a COVID-19 home test kit, which will then be sent to a laboratory for processing. In August, the Cincinnati-based company added hundreds of testing clinics to its stores for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

While vaccines are slowly being rolled out, health experts say the nation could suppress the outbreak and reopen much of the economy by relaxing regulatory hurdles to allow millions of faster tests that are less technically accurate but actually better at being Are able to identify sick people when they are most contagious.

Earlier this month, the U.S. government announced a $ 231.8 million contract with an Australian company behind the first all-at-home rapid coronavirus test, also available without a prescription. The test run by Ellume can similarly display results on the user’s phone within 15 minutes of receiving a sample.

Ellume’s test looks for viral proteins shed by COVID-19. This is different from the gold standard PCR tests, which look for the genetic material of the virus.

As with other tests that look for proteins, FDA officials found that the Ellume test can produce a small percentage of false positives and false negatives. People who get a negative result but have coronavirus symptoms should see a doctor, the agency said.

This story was told from Cincinnati.

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