With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing in severity, the FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to a growing list of companies supplying patients with coronavirus test kits.
There are 3 different types of COVID tests that have been authorized by the FDA – 2 diagnostic tests to detect if someone has a current or active infection and 1 antibody test to detect if someone has been infected with the virus in the past.
How much is a COVID-19 test? Depending on the COVID-19 test kit, there is a wide range in price from $30 to $180. Use our table below to compare prices of each. Also, before ordering your kit, check payment options. Typically, testing companies accept HSA and FSA payments. Companies can also provide you with an itemized bill that you may be able to submit for reimbursement to your health insurance plan.
The two types of COVID-19 diagnostic tests are molecular tests and antigen tests. Both detect if you have an active infection. Because the COVID-19 virus is present in your respiratory tract, samples are taken from the nose or mouth. If you test positive, follow the CDC guidelines to protect yourself and those around you and contact your doctor.
The most common molecular test is a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). This includes RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) which is the gold standard for detecting an active COVID-19 infection. These tests all detect the virus’s genetic material and use amplification so they can detect the virus even if it is present at low levels in your body. As a result, they can be more expensive and often take longer than the other type of diagnostic testing.
Molecular tests are usually highly accurate and typically will not need to be repeated.
Also known as: RT-PCR, nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), and CRISPR.
RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests are the gold standard for detecting an active COVID-19 infection. These use complex laboratory equipment and require a longer turnaround time (up to several days or more), and as a result are often the most expensive.
LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) tests don’t have the same level of sensitivity as RT-PCR tests. However, the turnaround time is often significantly shorter.
Tests that are called ‘NAAT’ or ‘molecular test’ do not specify which type of testing they use.
There are two main methods of molecular collection: a nose or nasal swab and a saliva test.
Antigen tests can detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They are generally run on a paper strip and so are much less expensive and can deliver almost instant results. They often look like a home pregnancy kit – any antibodies on the strip will react with any viral proteins and give a visual positive result such as a line of color. They typically are less sensitive than the molecular tests which use amplification, so false negatives can occur if you have a low viral load of COVID-19. As the science develops, it is possible that newer antigen tests will become almost as sensitive as molecular tests.
Antigen tests do not contain the same amplifying step that molecular tests do, meaning faster results but less accuracy.
Also known as: Rapid tests
Both false positive and false negative results are known to occur. If the result does not match your expectations, contact your doctor to discuss repeating with a molecular test
The main method of rapid antigen testing is by using a nasal swab.
An antibody test does not detect if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Instead, it is a blood test to determine if you have been infected with the virus in the past. If you have had a COVID-19 infection, often your body has produced antibodies to the virus, which helps you fight the virus. Rapid antibody tests use finger stick blood samples – the antigens on the paper strip will react with any antibodies in your blood and you will see a visual cue such as a color line if the test is positive, similar to a home pregnancy test.
The test can detect IgM (acute and short-lived) antibodies, IgG (long-lasting) antibodies, or both. Antibodies begin to appear around 2 – 3 weeks after the start of a COVID-19 infection, typically when you are no longer infectious. A positive IgM test indicates that you may have been infected recently and that your immune system is mounting a response. A negative IgM and positive IgG result suggests you have likely recovered from COVID-19. It is not known for how long these antibodies protect you from catching the virus again as there are case reports of individuals contracting COVID-19 more than once.
Some people may not develop detectable levels of IgM or IgG and therefore a negative result does not guarantee that you have not been infected in the past.
Customers wanting an antibody test can call or order online from a testing site below, and then visit a local lab to have blood drawn.
For more information on the different test types and how everything works, keep reading our breakdown of the research... read more
The sensitivity of a COVID-19 test measures how often a test can correctly detect a positive case of the virus. A highly sensitive test is very accurate when the test result is negative, meaning if you have a negative test it is very likely to be truly negative.
While sensitivity refers to detecting the positive cases, specificity describes how accurately a test can detect a negative case or lack of the virus. A highly specific test is very accurate when the test result is positive, meaning if you have a positive test, it is very likely to be truly positive.
For more information, check out this video on sensitivity and specificity by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.
At this time, most tests are authorized through prescription, which means you need to either visit a healthcare professional or have a phone call with a professional provided through the test service. As of December, the FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization to Ellume to provide the first over the counter (non-prescription) test kit, and this is expected to be available in early 2021.
The following test kits have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA (EUA) or are currently under review during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details on each company, read the test kit overviews in the descriptions below.
|Company||Test Type||Collection Method||Turnaround Time||Sensitivity||Specificity||Price||Age requirements||FDA EUA|
|AZOVA||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||Up to 3 days after sample received||98%||99%||$168 or $178 for travelers
$130 or $140 for travelers through Costco.com
|DxTerity||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||1-3 days after sample received||Symptomatic: 86.2-99.5%* Asymptomatic: 66.5-93.8%*||Symptomatic: 76.9-96%* Asymptomatic: 97.8-99.6%*||$110||N/A||Yes|
(estimated availability early 2021)
|Antigen||Nasal swab||15 minutes||95%||97%||$30||2+||Yes|
|empowerDX||RT-PCR||Nasal swab or new mask test||1-2 days after sample received||Claim to have best sensitivity as of Dec 2020||N/A||$99||18+||Yes|
|Everlywell||RT-PCR||Nasal swab||1-2 days after sample received||95%||98%||$109||18+||Yes|
(not yet available)
|Antigen||Nasal swab||15 minutes||89%||100%||$30 - $40||N/A||No|
|Health Labs||Antibody||Blood test||1-2 days after sample received||100%||99.6%||$119||Children with legal consent||Yes|
|Hims & Hers||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||3-5 days after shipping sample back||N/A||N/A||$150||N/A||Yes|
Lemonaid X Scanwell
(not yet available)
|Antibody||Blood test||1-2 business days after submitting test||N/A||N/A||$70||N/A||No|
|LetsGetChecked||RT-PCR||Nasal swab||1-3 days after sample received||Claims test is most analytically sensitive for lower nasal swabs and take home tests||N/A||$119||18+||Yes|
(estimated availability Spring 2021)
|LAMP||Nasal swab||30 minutes (all at-home)||94%||98%||$50 or less||14+ (13 and under when specimen collected by healthcare provider)||Yes|
|myLab Box||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||3-4 days after ordering your kit||N/A||N/A||$150||N/A||Yes|
|Phosphorus||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||1-3 days after sample received||97.1%||98.2%||$140||N/A||Yes|
|Picture by Fulgent Genetics||RT-PCR or Antibody||Nasal or oral swab or blood, plasma or serum||1-2 days after sample received||99.9%||99.9%||$119||4+ with parental consent||Yes|
|Pixel by LabCorp™||RT-PCR||Nasal swab||1-2 days after sample received||Approx. 100%||Approx. 100%||$119 upfront (or insurance/public funding)||Must be 18+ to take test||Yes|
|P23 Labs||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||2-3 days after sample received||99%||98%||$99||N/A||Yes|
|QuestDirect by Quest Diagnostics||RT-PCR or Antibody||Nasal swab or blood test||1-2 days after sample received||98% to 100%||Approx. 100%||$128.30 to $138.30||18+||Yes|
|Vault Health||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||2-3 days after sample received||99%||99%||$119||Can test children||Yes|
|1health / Vitagene||RT-PCR||Saliva sample||1-3 days after sample received||99.99%||100%||$117||N/A||Yes|
You’ll find that most COVID-19 testing kits are similar in methods and accuracy, but prices, shipping, features, and company policies do vary.
The FDA states on their website, “Most EUA-authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostic tests have been authorized for use in individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare providers. Individuals suspected of COVID-19 infection or exposure can be symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or asymptomatic. Testing of any of these individuals is at the discretion of the healthcare provider ordering the test.” Read more to see which test could be right for you.
This test kit is available online through Costco.com and as a result is expected to be popular with Costco customers. The at home service is not currently available in Nevada, Maryland or Pennsylvania.
There are 2 options – a slightly cheaper basic test, and a more expensive option that includes video observation that is advised if the test is to be used by travelers.
This test has been authorized by the FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories.
Not only is DxTerity’s test kit the first COVID-19 test available on Amazon, but it’s also the first to receive emergency authorization for both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. While test kit companies with EUA are all FDA emergency authorized for testing, the FDA states on their website, “Additionally, certain SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostic tests have been authorized with a screening claim, for use in individuals without symptoms or other reasons to suspect COVID-19.”
However, unlike other tests, DxTerity uses positive and negative agreement percentages instead of sensitivity and specificity, indicating they tested against a non-reference standard.
To get tested with DxTerity, simply order from Amazon, register at DxTerity, collect your saliva sample, and ship it to their labs. You’ll be able to find your results through their website.
Ellume was granted FDA Emergency Use Authorization on December 15, 2020. As one of the newest test kits on the market, and one of the cheapest, it also boasts being one of the few kits that is available without a prescription.
In an interview with Ellume founder and CEO, Dr. Sean Parsons, he explains, "The core technology in the home COVID test has been a long time coming. We founded Ellume in 2010 after the swine flu pandemic to create a breakthrough high-performance diagnostics for influenza and other common infectious diseases. And so, Ellume is very much about responding to pandemics. We came from the last pandemic, and we're certainly doing everything we can to respond to this pandemic."
As an antigen test, the results may be less accurate than a molecular one, but the speed of results and low cost means this test is likely to be popular when it hits the market. The test kit comes with a nasal swab, a dropper, processing fluid and a small Bluetooth-connected device to analyze the sample and submit through an app on your phone.
Yet another FDA Emergency Use Authorized test, this RT-PCR test by empowerDX offers a fast turnaround time and low-cost if you’re paying out of pocket. This $99 kit (free shipping and no tax) is the same type of nasal swab method as the other molecular tests on the market. Airline-approved.
Delia Vallejo, VP and General Manager at EmpowerDX, told us that: “we are seeing a significant surge as consumers prepare for the holidays so that they can be safe.”
empowerDX claims that as of December 2020, their tests offer the best sensitivity of the 118 laboratories that submitted results to the FDA’s SARS-CoV-2 Reference Panel.
empowerDX has a new type of diagnostic test for those not experiencing symptoms but wanting to know if COVID-19 is present in their environment. The Worn Mask COVID-19 Test Kit comes with four masks for $99. Each participant wears their mask for four hours, then they are shipped back to the lab for the RT-PCR test. Results are pooled and will reveal whether you are being exposed to COVID-19.
Everlywell, a longtime at-home lab test site, has received FDA emergency authorization for their COVID-19 nasal swab test. This molecular (RT-PCR) kit is affordable ($109) and reimbursable through health insurance. If your coronavirus test result is positive, you will receive a free telehealth consult through Everlywell to guide you through the next steps.
In this partnership, biotechnology company Cellex is developing a rapid COVID-19 antigen test, while Gauss has created a consumer-friendly app for you to see your results within 15 minutes. Cellex’s test has not yet received FDA Emergency Use Authorization, but if it does, it will be one of the fastest tests on the market, using Gauss’s app to scan and return the rapid results.
Health Labs offers affordable pricing to customers for various tests, including its FDA-authorized COVID-19 antibody test. For $119 (reimbursable by some health insurance companies), you can order an antibody test online or over the phone, then schedule an appointment with one of 4,500 CLIA-Certified labs across the U.S. to have the bloodwork done. This test is a blood draw from the arm and detects if you have ever had COVID-19 in the past, not if you are currently infected.
If you don’t like the thought of a nasal swab, try a saliva test instead. Hims is one of a few companies offering an at-home FDA-authorized saliva sample test kit for COVID-19, giving customers access to the trustworthy RT-PCR test without using a nasal swab. The $150 price includes the kit, expedited shipping, and a telehealth consult.
LetsGetChecked is another FDA-authorized retailer of at-home coronavirus RT-PCR tests to detect active cases. This nasal swab kit is priced similarly to other kits at $119. The site also has customer care features, including telehealth calls with their nursing team, a video walkthrough of your test results, printable fact sheets, and online guides for what to do next if you test positive. The test includes free express USPS shipping with tracking information.
The FDA has authorized the first 100% at-home COVID-19 testing kit. Lucira Health is paving the way for a new line of testing, one where patients do it all themselves. It’s done by collecting your sample on a nasal swab, stirring the sample into the vial, and simply waiting 30 minutes for your results. In their trials, 100% of users 14 and older were able to run their test. Lucira uses LAMP molecular technology, similar to the RT-PCR tests, to get its quick and accurate results. The kit is presently only authorized for prescription use, but Lucira Health hope it will be widely available by Spring 2021, and they are aiming for a price of $50 or less.
Discount code: Use “Sitejabber” for 15% off all tests and masks.
MyLab Box, a veteran at-home testing company, was the first consumer brand to offer a COVID-19 detection kit via saliva sample. This FDA-authorized RT-PCR test comes with overnight shipping included in the $150 fee, allowing you to get your results within 3-4 days from the time you order your kit. These must be ordered by a physician in your state, and myLAB Box has physicians available in all 50 states to arrange for a test to be ordered if appropriate. A free consultation with a physician is included if you test positive.
Lora Ivanova, Co-founder and CEO of myLAB Box spoke to us about their kit:
“We were the first consumer brand to bring a saliva COVID-19 test to the market – a modality which is not only the least invasive but also showing superior accuracy to traditional nasal swab tests. After working with clinicians first responders all over the US in the early days of the pandemic we have now made our test available to everyone and anyone who may have been exposed to the virus and needs peace of mind. Easy, reliable, and fast turnaround guaranteed.”
Yet another FDA-authorized kit, receive your results from Phosphorus within 72 hours of the lab receiving your sample. The kit is $140 and boasts a high accuracy rate, detecting 97% of positive and 98% of negative cases. Keep in mind, due to FedEx limitations, there are limited shipments on Saturday and none on Sunday. Meghan Miller, the Medical Affairs Manager for Phosphorus spoke to us about the benefits of their tests:
"Consumers want to have assurance that they can take a test when they think they are most at risk and they want to receive reliable results in a reasonable timeframe. This test meets those important needs."
Picture Genetics uses a NAAT (also called RT-PCR) nasal swab kit, a form of molecular testing that is highly reliable, to give you fast results within 2 days of receiving your sample. Overnight shipping of your sample is included in the $119 price.
This test has been authorized by the FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories.
This FDA-authorized diagnostic kit detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2, through a molecular (RT-PCR) test via at-home nasal swab. LabCorp™ processes samples seven days a week, giving patients a 1-2-day turnaround time after their sample arrives at the lab. The kit costs $119 and can be reimbursed by your insurance company or through public funding.
After completing a questionnaire, P23 Labs’s COVID-19 RT-PCR kit will be mailed to your home. The kit and two-way shipping costs $99 total, lower than most comparable tests, and features a user error rate of less than 1%, meaning that it’s very user-friendly. P23 Labs is a “boutique” lab that carries many other test types, including its new Respiratory ONE test to detect illnesses that share the same symptoms as COVID-19. Talk to your doctor about which test could be right for you.
This test has been authorized by the FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories.
Quest Diagnostics offers two active infection COVID-19 testing options to consumers, an in-person test at a drive-thru facility ($119), or an at-home kit ($129). Both options also have a $9.30 physician fee. Both tests use the FDA authorized PCR nasal swab method that is 98% to 100% accurate. For patients needing an antibody test (not an active infection test), Quest Diagnostics allows you to order and schedule an appointment for a blood test through their website for $128.30. Quest handles as much as 20% of testing efforts across the country.
If you’d like to take a COVID-19 test from home but are worried about invasive methods or not taking your sample correctly, Vault Health offers a non-invasive saliva sample test that is supervised via Zoom video call with a medical professional, with calls available 7 days a week. For $119, customers receive the FDA authorized at-home kit, Zoom virtual appointment for collection, and expedited shipping. Vault Health is partnering with Flirtey to deliver tests by drone in the near future. You do not need to have symptoms when ordering the test.
Vitagene was the first FDA authorized company to sell at-home saliva test kits for COVID-19. After receiving your kit, follow the onscreen instructions to collect your saliva sample in the tube provided. Vitagene offers the option of a telehealth consultation after receiving your results to virtually answer any questions and discuss what your next steps should be. Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO, talked to us about how they are rolling out their test as widely as possible:
“Vitagene is powered by 1health, a new technology platform that is disrupting healthcare testing by introducing Testing as a Service (TaaS), providing a more efficient and cost-effective testing model to thousands of health systems, universities, governments and corporations.”
The contents of this guide are for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.