Image for representational purposes only.

Texas-based Everlywell, a health tech startup that provides home testing for thyroid, metabolism, Vitamin-D among others, has announced the launch of an at-home collection kit for COVID-9 along with telehealth diagnosis starting March 23rd.

The Austin-based company currently offers certified home tests for a wide spectrum of diseases, including STDs, fertility, and thyroid, among others.

The at-home collection kit will include nasal swabs for extraction of the sample, along with shipping equipment to ensure safe transportation of the samples in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the US Centre for Disease Control and the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, to help mitigate possible risks to courier services moving the packages.

Consumers will be required to go through a screening questionnaire to determine their eligibility for testing. After the testing of the sample, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, he will be connected to certified physicians for further treatment, and the information will also be shared with the relevant authorities as per SOP. The entire process will cost $135, and Everlywell says it will get no profit from the sales. The results will be delivered in under 48 hours via a secured, online format.

“As the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to worsen with community spread across the United States, there is an unmet medical need to broaden the access to testing for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in a responsible manner to complement and help alleviate the potential overload on healthcare systems and healthcare providers if testing was only available in the limited clinical setting,”  Dr. Frank Ong, the chief medical and scientific officer of Everlywell, said in a news release.

The company says an initial supply of 30,000 test kits will be available to consumers starting Monday. Everlywell also expects to scale its at-home COVID-19 tests rapidly in order to test and diagnosis up to 250,000 people each week, although that target could be a far-cry given the shortage of collection equipment including the nasal swabs.

“Everlywell was founded to give people affordable, convenient access to lab testing. Never has our mission been more important,” Julia Cheek, founder and CEO of Everlywell, said in the release. “Our team has been working around the clock with top scientists and laboratories in the nation to develop a test that we will make available at the lowest price possible while covering our costs, at no profit to the company. We have also reached out to government and public health officials to explore possibilities to provide it for free,” she added.

The initiative comes at a time when the US medical system is severely struggling to contain the pandemic owing to limited testing facilities, something the government has been severely criticized for, given the fact that less-developed countries have installed more robust testing mechanisms than the mighty US. The introduction of at-home collection kits will also provide a respite to the front-line medical personnel as they stand a greater chance to contract the disease.