Exclusive: A plan to deliver at-home COVID tests
The company behind one of the new fully at-home COVID-19 tests is partnering with a digital health platform to deliver rapid diagnostics to consumers.
Why it matters: One of the biggest obstacles to at-home tests making a difference for the pandemic is delivering the tens of millions of kits that would be needed for regular, mass surveillance. The new partnership can help efforts scale up rapidly at a moment when the pandemic is spinning out of control and mass vaccination is still months away.
Driving the news: Gauss, a startup that develops computer vision-aided diagnostics for healthcare, is partnering with the digital health platform Truepill to speed the distribution of millions of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, Axios can report first.
- Gauss had previously partnered with the biotech startup Cellex to develop the at-home antigen COVID-19 tests, which can be taken and read at home using a smartphone, delivering results within 15 minutes.
- The test is still awaiting emergency use authorization from the FDA — though Gauss expects approval to come through within days — and will be priced in the $30 range.
- Gauss is working to produce a million tests over the next month, with plans to scale up to 30 million tests in the first quarter of 2021. Consumers will be able to order the tests from the Gauss website, with deliveries handled by Truepill, which already fulfills orders for direct to consumer drug brands like Hims.
Flashback: The FDA last week approved the first rapid, at-home coronavirus test — manufactured by Ellume and available across the counter without a prescription.
Context: While more than 200 million COVID-19 tests have been carried out by the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, most have been used to diagnose possible cases once symptoms have appeared, which does little to identify those who might be infectious before they can spread the virus.
- Michael Mina, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Kristian Andersen, of the Scripps Research Institute, laid out the case for mass, self-administered rapid at-home tests in an article published in Science on Monday.
- Mina and Andersen want governments to provide the tests free of charge. The price tag would reach the billions, but given the fact that the pandemic may cost the U.S. alone more than $16 trillion, that seems like a good deal.