Nurx, the telehealth startup known for delivering birth control and at-home sexually transmitted infection testing, is rolling out a home test for COVID-19.
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The company’s long-time partner, Molecular Testing Labs, is developing the test, which will be available as soon as Friday afternoon.
“Drive-through testing is an option, but it doesn’t exist everywhere,” Dr. Chris Hall, Nurx’s senior medical adviser said in an interview with Crunchbase News. “We feel that all of the testing options are necessary to address this crisis, but we just feel like home-based testing is going to be a really important part of that.”
Nurx, which is based in San Francisco, has more than $93 million in funding and is backed by investors including Kleiner Perkins and Union Square Ventures. It last raised $32 million for its Series C round in August 2019.
Nurx first published a blog post to answer a few questions about coronavirus, before the company realized it could play a bigger role in the solution. The startup has been working for about two weeks on making an at-home test available, Hall said, and has been meeting with Molecular Testing Labs multiple times every day, including weekends. The entire Nurx team has been working on rolling out the at-home COVID-19 test.
“We began to realize pretty quickly after creating that blog post that we were perfectly situated to pivot to this service,” he said.
While Nurx is perhaps best known for delivering birth control and the HIV-prevention medication PrEP, it has been in the at-home testing space for a while, providing testing kits for sexually transmitted infections, HIV, Hepatitis C and HPV.
Getting tested for coronavirus in the United States has been difficult, and Nurx is one of several startups working on making more COVID-19 tests available since the Food and Drug Administration gave certified labs the green light to develop and distribute them. Austin-based at-home testing startup EverlyWell also announced plans to have an at-home COVID-19 test available next week. Los Angeles’ Scanwell Health and San Francisco’s Carbon Health also announced home test kits.
A person wanting to get tested for the virus can use the Nurx app or website, indicate interest in the test and fill out a survey with questions about symptoms. A Nurx provider will then review the information and decide if the patient should be tested. If so, the company will send a test kit with expedited shipping and instructions on how to complete the test and how to send the kit back to Molecular Testing Labs’ facility in Vancouver, Washington.
To complete the test, patients will perform a throat swab. Molecular Testing Labs performs a polymerase chase reaction (PCR) test to determine if the patient has COVID-19.
A patient should receive results within 24 to 48 hours, Hall said, and Nurx will advise them what next steps they should take, such as isolation. Patients will receive automatic advice, but if they have unanswered questions they can communicate with a provider.
Nurx will have the test, which will cost under $200, available on a “limited basis” when it’s first introduced. The company’s planning to provide 10,000 home testing kits in the upcoming weeks and, according to a company spokeswoman, 100,000 tests in the near future.
“We are here to work with everyone just to increase the sheer number of tests that are out there,” Hall said. “No single provider and no single company or initiative is going to be able to solve this problem alone.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated post-publication to reflect that patients will now perform a throat swab rather than a nasal swab to complete the test.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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