Why a wave of at-home coronavirus tests are dividing global regulators

From Australia to Italy to the United States, a new surge of Covid-19 tests have cropped up to meet an urgent need for more testing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The molecular tests that search for evidence of viral genetic material—so-called PCR tests—are in short supply. Given the backlog, some nations are turning to other testing methods, and biotech and testing startups are racing to churn out their version of the fastest, cheapest, or most convenient Covid-19 test. In the last week, several have announced at-home tests.

At-home tests could take two main forms. One would would require individuals to swab their own noses and mouths, and send those samples in to a certified lab for PCR processing. Then there’s so-called serologic testing, which tests blood samples for the antibodies the body produces to fight off a coronavirus infection.

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