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New partnership links positive COVID-19 cases to antivirals — for a price

New partnership links positive COVID-19 cases to antivirals — for a price


The at-home testing program isn’t free

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The Detect COVID-19 test is an at-home molecular test.
The Detect COVID-19 test is an at-home molecular test.
Image: Detect

The at-home molecular COVID-19 testing company Detect is partnering with healthcare provider Carbon Health to give customers who test positive easy access to antiviral treatments, the companies announced today.

The “Test to Treat at Home” program runs directly through the Detect app, which connects people who test positive for COVID-19 with Carbon Health. Then, they can set up appointments for virtual or in-person visits, depending on their location. At that appointment, a provider can prescribe an antiviral like Paxlovid, and patients can pick the drug up the same day — a timesaver for a drug that has to be taken within five days of symptoms starting.

The program is modeled off the Biden administration’s Test to Treat program, which lets people get COVID-19 tests and antiviral drugs at federally qualified health centers, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities around the country.

But, unlike the federal program, which is free, the Detect and Carbon Health partnership comes at a cost — which could keep it from being widely accessible. A Detect hub and a single test cost $85, and each subsequent test is an additional $49. Carbon Health visits are covered by many insurance companies, but, for the uninsured, virtual visits can run as high as $69 and in-person visits as high as $195.

Still, the model could be a way to connect more people with antivirals. Even though supplies of drugs like Paxlovid are up in the United States, they’re still not being as widely used as they could be. Some people who could qualify for the drug based on risk factors are still struggling to access prescriptions, and the increased use of at-home tests means that people are testing positive without contact with a health provider.

“The home tests are here, the antiviral supply is here,” said Hugo Barra, the chief executive officer of Detect, told The New York Times. “Now we just have to connect the dots.”

Creating more efficient systems to encourage testing and connect people with available care are important tools to lower the health burden of the pandemic, which is still ongoing. COVID-19 cases are climbing in the US as contagious and immune-evading versions of the omicron variant move through the country.