Jewel-Osco’s pharmacy plans to start offering at-home COVID-19 tests tomorrow, becoming among the first retail pharmacies in Chicago to offer the do-it-yourself testing option.
Patients can buy the tests at the pharmacies, and Jewel-Osco asks that any patients showing symptoms get their tests delivered.
Giving people the ability to test themselves for the virus is paramount, said Ryan McCann, director of pharmacy operations for Jewel-Osco. “There’s a lot of individuals that still have a fear of coming out or being out in public,” he said. “It’ll definitely kind of fit a need right now, based on various patients and what they’re looking for.”
This is Jewel-Osco’s first foray into COVID testing. While CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens offer different forms of testing, they do not offer the at-home option.
The tests will be available at all 179 Jewel-Osco pharmacies in the Chicago area, McCann said, and cost $140 each. Jewel-Osco cannot bill medical insurance plans for them.
Patients must fill out an online medical questionnaire and request the test. It requires people to collect their own saliva sample and mail it as soon as possible. People can expect results within 72 hours.
The at-home test is a relatively new option for Americans entering their seventh month of the pandemic. Early on, many states struggled with the availability of all tests, and development of different options has followed.
There are about eight different at-home COVID-19 tests available nationally, and they’ve been around since mid-summer, said Dr. Sindhu Aderson, an immediate care physician at Northwestern University. The at-home saliva tests are generally accurate, and people are typically good at collecting their own saliva samples, Aderson said. Home swabbing has been found to be about 80 percent sensitive in detecting COVID compared to tests administered by medical professionals.
But there are caveats. If the at-home test comes back negative but the patient is symptomatic, Aderson recommends having a medical professional administer a deep nasal swab, which has been crowned the gold standard of COVID testing.
She expects the at-home tests to become more prolific. They could also help people get tested sooner, when they’re more contagious, and ultimately help control the spread of the disease, Aderson said.
“It’s an effort to increase availability of testing,” she said. “As we’re learning more and more and more about this virus, we’re able to pick up the virus in a large percentage of patients with the less invasive tests.”