Costco begins selling at-home COVID-19 test kits

A sign marks the location of a Costco store on December 12, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Costco is expected to report its fiscal 1Q19 on December 13. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Costco, one of the largest wholesale retailers, is selling coronavirus test kits online.

The PCR saliva kits can be used without oversight at home and don't involve "painful nasal swabs," according to the description on Costco's website.

“PCR tests are the gold standard testing method with the most accurate sensitivity and specificity currently on the market,” the company wrote.

The at-home tests, which have been approved by the Food and Drug administration for Emergency Use Authorization, allow customers to test for coronavirus via saliva samples from home, in the office or in pharmacy self-administration.

According to Costco’s site, those who take the test can get their results within 24-72 hours from the time the lab receives the kit.

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Test maker P23 states that the tests are 98% sensitive — meaning the test will produce a true positive response — and 99% specific, which is the probability the test will produce a true negative response.

In addition, Costco marked the item as FSA eligible, meaning that it may be purchased using a Flexible Spending Account for health care costs.

In July, Kroger Health, the healthcare division of the supermarket brand, announced its COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which became available to front-line workers across its stores.

Kroger’s kit included a nasal swab, transport vial, instruction sheet, prepaid shipping label and packing materials for return shipment of the sample to the Gravity Diagnostics laboratory, located in Northern Kentucky.

In Sept., Albertsons Companies, announced its partnership with Phosphorus to begin offering at-home COVID-19 test kits in select market areas.

“Customers appreciate the convenience and innovation of taking the test from their own home,” said Dan Salemi, GVP Albertsons Cos. Pharmacy. “The saliva test is easy to use and comfortable. Patients are never more than a phone call away from our pharmacy’s guidance and care. And the at-home model can help ease the burden on a stressed health care system.”

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While many companies are claiming high accuracy of at-home COVID-19 testing, American healthcare company GoodRx says it is important to remember that the tests are only FDA authorized and not FDA approved. “Therefore, the tests are only authorized for the duration of the public health emergency, and have not been put through the same type of rigorous review that the agency normally conducts,” the company wrote.

Authorized at-home tests run between $109 - $155.

The United States currently has more than 8.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics compiled Oct. 23 from Johns Hopkins University.