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Albertsons now offers at-home coronavirus test kit using saliva

"If you are asymptomatic, are symptomatic or may even need a test to prove that you are negative, this would be an opportunity for you to come in and purchase one."

BOISE, Idaho — Coronavirus tests are now more widely available to Idahoans thanks to a new at-home test kit for sale at Albertsons pharmacies.

For $140, Idahoans can test themselves at home using their saliva.

Director of Albertsons Pharmacy Operations Nikki Price says right now, Albertsons is not able to bill insurance so the cost is out-of-pocket, but the tests are available to anyone.

"If you are asymptomatic, are symptomatic or may even need a test to prove that you are negative, this would be an opportunity for you to come in and purchase one of those," Price said.

Test kits must first be requested online and then once it's available, it can be picked up at the pharmacy or delivered.

A tube comes in the kit that you fill up to the marker with your saliva and then mail it in using the prepaid shipping label and envelope that also come with the kit.

"You will receive results within 48 to 72 hours, and you will receive those either by email or texts based on the preference you have when you sign up for the test," Price said.

When asked how accurate the test is, Price said it is just as effective as a deep nasal swab.

"In this particular case, positive and sensitive negativities are 98%," she said. "So, this one has a little higher sensitivity and accuracy rate than your rapid tests that are out there in some cases."

We also asked Dr. Ryan Cole, CEO of Cole Diagnostics, the largest independent medical lab in Idaho, to weigh in.

After looking at studies, Cole believes the accuracy pf the test is a bit lower.

"They have a 10% miss rate," Cole said. "So, you have at least a 10% chance of having a false negative on the saliva test and that's pretty significant. One out of every 10 people can be told they are negative when they are not."

The FDA is currently reviewing the test's performance but has made it available under an Emergency Use Authorization.

Cole was also concerned that the shipping process could interfere with the results.

"You are spitting into a jar and on a 103- or 105-degree day and you are putting it in the mail and shipping it all the way across the country to New Jersey," Cole said. "The challenge with that is RNA is very fragile and very temperature-sensitive so that also increases your chances of getting a false negative report."

Price says the samples will be shipped out quickly.

"With it being shipped overnight, if it was going to be out for a couple days that would have a larger impact than an overnight mailing kit like this one," Price said.

She added that people should avoid chewing gum or eating 30 minutes before collecting a sample for the best accuracy.

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