Diagnostics, Retail Health

Walmart partners with startup to sell at-home Covid-19 tests

The retailer is offering at-home Covid-19 testing kits, including nasal swabs and saliva test kits, from Los Angeles-based startup myLab Box.

Walmart began selling at-home Covid-19 tests on its e-commerce websites. The test kits are offered through Los Angeles-based home testing startup myLab Box.

Currently, it offers three kinds of tests: a nasal swab test, a saliva sample, and a kit for both a Covid-19 and flu test.

The test kits are priced between $99 to $135. Customers receive a code which directs them to a health survey. If deemed appropriate, a physician order is generated, and the testing kit is mailed out to the customer, Lori Flees, Walmart’s senior vice president and COO of health and wellness, wrote in a blog post.

The kits are supposed to take two days to ship, unless the customer pays for expedited shipping. Currently, there’s no option to get insurance to cover the cost of the test kits upfront, though Walmart says they can be applied to an FSA or HSA.

MyLab Box, which was founded in 2013, first set out to offer at-home STD test kits. It began partnering with retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon a few years ago.

At the start of the pandemic, it and other home-testing companies like Everlywell and Nurx rushed to make at-home coronavirus tests available with their lab partners. But just as they had begun to pre-sell test kits, the Food and Drug Administration cracked down, in part due to concerns that patients might not swab themselves correctly. At the time, the only tests that were available used the somewhat uncomfortable nasopharyngeal swab, which goes deep into the nasal cavity.

Now that there are more options, such as saliva tests and swabs for the front of the nostrils, the FDA has authorized more at-home collection kits. And a few weeks ago, the FDA gave an emergency use authorization to the first at-home rapid molecular test, where patients put their swab in a small vial and receive results within 30 minutes. But the test itself isn’t expected to be widely available until next spring, according to test-maker Lucira Health.

Photo credit: Walmart