Access to reliable COVID-19 testing is a growing, critical need across the nation. As Americans continue to seek answers and resources related to COVID-19, the role of pharmacy within the patient’s healthcare journey becomes increasingly important. With recent landmark decisions, such as the declaration made by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which enables pharmacists to conduct COVID-19 testing without physician authorization, pharmacists are well-positioned to conduct critical mitigation services, such as collecting samples for COVID-19 testing, throughout their communities.
The team at PrescribeWellness has put together this helpful reference guide so that you can quickly familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 test options currently available, and continue to serve your communities as a valuable and trusted source of knowledge.
Types of COVID-19 tests
Before securing testing kits and collecting samples for laboratory processing, it’s important to be aware of the options currently available for COVID-19 testing:
Type #1 – Blood test designed to determine past infection (immunity) status. Patients may test positive anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks after developing IgM/IgG antibodies. The sample is obtained from a finger prick and/or venous blood, depending on the manufacturer. The time to obtain test results varies by product, from availability at point-of-care (such as right at your pharmacy), to sample processing in a laboratory.
Type #2 – Upper respiratory specimens are obtained from nasal, nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs, nasal or nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate, and sputum samples. The exact origins of the samples are manufacturer-specific. The vast majority of these tests are performed by the laboratory. A participating pharmacy acts as a sample collection site, and samples must be shipped for processing. However, some manufacturers do offer upper respiratory tests for point-of-care.
On April 21st, a first test allowing at-home sample collection was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In an effort to minimize healthcare provider’s exposure, patients will be able to ship their samples to the laboratory independently.
Type #3 – Tests utilizing upper and lower respiratory specimens are also on the market. These tests use samples obtained from the upper respiratory tract mentioned in “Type 2” above, as well as lower respiratory samples like bronchoalveolar lavage.
While the emergence of COVID-19 testing kits comes with much hope, it is critical that providers make informed decisions when securing testing opportunities. The FDA, along with several news outlets across the country, has reported that fraudulent tests and fraudulent test-makers are compromising the testing kit market. The illegitimacy is two-fold. Some types of tests simply do not work due to faulty testing mechanisms, while others may use the proper testing mechanism, but are produced by an unauthorized manufacturer. Both scenarios can lead to unreliable results, which in turn introduces a variety of risks to those administering, and those subject to, the process of testing.
For these reasons, it is extremely important that providers reference the FDA’s complete list of authorized tests that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, or the list of all FDA approved products, prior to ordering a COVID-19 testing kit. Not only do these lists provide general information about the different types of COVID-19 testing kits available, but they also help to ensure administration of legitimate tests that are produced by authorized manufacturers. Because these lists are frequently updated, it’s advisable to always check back for the latest information. However, for ease of navigating through this heavy load of information, we’ve summarized the general types of tests available above.
We’re in this together
PrescribeWellness remains committed to serving our community pharmacy partners during this critical time by providing pertinent information and resources that are conducive to more effective care. That is why we are proud to offer our front line community providers the opportunity to secure authorized and reliable testing kits through our online purchase form. Our dedicated team members are standing by to provide you support throughout the entire testing process, such as facilitating the transportation of specimens for lab processing.
For more information on how PrescribeWellness can support your community pharmacy during the developing coronavirus pandemic, including the securing of testing opportunities, contact us today through the form below.