Nov 19, 2021 - Health

New COVID test offers quick PCR-quality results at home

Detect test

The Detect COVID-19 test. Image: Detect, Inc.

A new COVID-19 molecular test delivers PCR-quality results to users at home in one hour.

The big picture: The new test is a sign of the innovation COVID has sparked in the home diagnostics industry, bringing the power of the lab into the home.

How it works: The new test from Detect, a Connecticut-based health tech company, "takes the accuracy of a PCR test in the lab and puts it in a form factor that makes it easy for anyone to use and inexpensive enough for anyone to afford," says Eric Kauderer-Abrams, Detect's chief technology officer.

  • Users take a swab sample from each nostril, which is then mixed with freeze-dried chemical reagents contained in the cap of a small plastic tube.
  • After being placed in the reusable Detect hub, the test searches for and amplifies the genetic code of any SARS-CoV-2 virus in the sample, similar to the way a PCR test works in a professional lab.
  • After an hour, the liquid-fueled tube is placed in a reader containing a lateral flow strip, with positive or negative results expressed with a single line, like an at-home pregnancy test, with a connected app that guides the process and can be used to verify and share results.

By the numbers: The Detect test is 97.3% accurate, on par with a PCR lab test and better than existing rapid at-home antigen tests that look for the immune response to infection.

  • Detect's test earned an emergency use authorization from the FDA late last month, and the company recently received an $8.1 million contract from the NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Initiative to scale up manufacturing at its Connecticut location.

Between the lines: The hub is reusable and reagents can be reprogrammed to search for other viruses. The company's long-term vision "is that you'll be able to get a flu test or a COVID test or whatever you need, at home," says Owen Kaye-Kauderer, Detect's chief business officer.

The catch: With a retail price of $49 per test — not including the $39 reusable hub — the Detect test is still much more expensive than rapid antigen tests that are less accurate but generally reliable when it comes to identifying people when they are actively contagious.

Go deeper