More Accurate (Expensive) Tests
In addition to at-home antigen rapid tests, you can also opt for an at-home molecular test. Antigen tests (rapid tests) detect proteins on the surface of the virus, while molecular tests (typically known as PCR tests) detect the virus’s genetic material—making it typically more accurate. But since PCR tests require a laboratory and a few days to receive results, they’re not as convenient as 15-minute rapid tests.
The molecular tests below use central hubs equipped with lab-quality technology. With the help of a few other accessories, these tests can provide PCR-like results within 15 minutes. It’s more helpful for those who travel often and/or work in industries that require being around large groups of people.
Cue Health’s molecular at-home test is perhaps the most luxurious on the market (a sentence I never thought I’d say). If it weren’t for its extremely steep price (a Cue Reader and 10-pack of swabs will set you back a whopping $854)—even if you opt for one of its membership tiers with subscription pricing)—I’d easily recommend it solely for its ease of use (plus the 97.8 percent accuracy). No solution, tubes, cassettes, or test strips are required. Simply open the connected app, insert a cartridge into the Cue Reader, swab your nose, and insert the swab into the cartridge. After 20 minutes, you’ll receive results on your phone. The company says its test has an accuracy rate of 97.8 percent.
Warning: An app is required to use this test, so you should check if your phone is compatible.
For travel: For supervised testing with Cue, you’ll need to sign up for Cue+ Complete. For $75 per month, you’ll have access to supervised testing available 24/7 worldwide. The membership also comes with 20 Covid-19 tests, a discounted Cue reader for $149 (down from $249), and more.
For a more affordable option (compared to the Cue), there’s also the Detect at-home rapid test. You can opt for the starter kit—which comes with a Detect Hub and a Covid-19 test—or purchase the test ($49) and hub ($35) separately. The hub is reusable, but you’ll have to purchase additional tests each time. Detect uses a companion app to guide you through step-by-step instructions and deliver your results. But the cheaper price does come with a few caveats—the process requires a lengthy number of steps, and you’ll also have to wait an hour for results, versus 15 to 20 minutes for other tests. The company claims its test has a 97.3 percent accuracy.
Detect also offers a service called “Test to Treat at Home” in partnership with health care provider Carbon Health. If you test positive for Covid-19, you can use the Detect app to schedule an appointment with Carbon Health’s telehealth service or in-person clinic (depending on your location). If eligible, you’ll receive an antiviral prescription—such as Molnupiravir or Paxlovid—with the option to choose between same-day pickup or delivery with a nearby pharmacy. The service is covered by most major health insurance plans. But for those without insurance, a telehealth visit will cost $69.