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Covid 19 coronavirus: US approves use of first rapid at-home Covid test

Covid 19 coronavirus: US approves use of first rapid at-home Covid test

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Health experts have for months called for options to allow people to test themselves at home, reducing turnaround times and the risk to healthcare workers. Photo / AP

US regulators on Wednesday (NZT) allowed emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed and developed entirely at home.

The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents an important step in US efforts to expand testing options for Covid-19 beyond healthcare facilities and testing sites.

However, the test will require a prescription, likely limiting its initial use.

The FDA granted emergency authorisation to the 30-minute test kit from Lucira Health, a California manufacturer.

The company’s test allows users to swab themselves to collect a nasal sample. The sample is then swirled in a vial that plugs into a portable device that interprets the results and displays whether the person tested positive or negative for coronavirus.

There are almost a dozen coronavirus vaccines in final-stage testing, with Moderna and Pfizer showing promising preliminary results. Video / AP

To date, the agency has authorised nearly 300 tests for coronavirus. The vast majority require a nasal swab performed by a health professional and must be processed at laboratories using high-tech testing equipment.

A handful allow people to collect their own sample at home – a nasal swab or saliva – that’s then shipped to a lab, which usually means waiting days for results.

Health experts have for months called for options to allow people to test themselves at home, reducing turnaround times and the potential spread of the virus to health care workers.

Lucira did not immediately respond to request for additional details.

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