A San Francisco startup is shipping coronavirus home test kits to sick Californians for $167

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  • San Francisco-based healthcare startup Carbon Health is offering $167 home test kits for the coronavirus disease for patients in California.
  • Californians who qualify are those who feel sick and are recommended by healthcare providers to stay home.
  • Carbon Health is one of a few companies developing at-home test kits for COVID-19 as the US grapples with a shortage of tests.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Carbon Health, a healthcare startup based in San Francisco, announced Friday that it has started shipping home test kits for the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

The tests cost $167.50 and consist of a saliva sample taken from an oral swab. The test kits are currently available to patients in California, with plans to expand nationwide depending on state regulations. Patients who qualify to request the kits are those who feel sick and are recommended by healthcare providers to stay home, but who are opting to stay out of medical centers so as not to potentially expose others.

Patients are asked to first create a Carbon Health account and complete the company’s free online screening test. According to its website, the company’s free Coronavirus Assessment Tool is “based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.” Patients that are eligible for the test kits will then be able to order and pay.

The test offerings are in partnership with Alto Pharmacy, a San Francisco-based online pharmacy that offers same-day prescription deliveries.

“Between supply shortages and lack of capacity, testing for COVID-19 is one of our country’s biggest obstacles to containing the outbreak,” said Eren Bali, cofounder and CEO of Carbon Health, in a press release. “Our proprietary technology and partnership with Alto Pharmacy allowed us to move fast and efficiently create, analyze and distribute testing.”

The tests are available for use under an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, a policy that went into effect to quicken the approval process for US labs developing tests for COVID-19.

Carbon Health is one of a few companies tinkering with shipping COVID-19 tests to patients in response to a national shortage of tests for the coronavirus. Everlywell, an Austin-based startup that specializes in at-home diagnostic tests for sexually transmitted diseases and fertility, is striving to start shipping home test kits soon, the company’s CEO Julia Cheek told Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey on March 13. Healthcare giant Roche also developed a test to be used on the company’s automated machines, which can produce results in 3 hours.

Carbon Health started garnering buzz back in 2018 after merging with a Berkeley-based urgent care provider and rolling out medical clinics across the Bay Area. There are 2 in San Francisco: one in the Castro and one in the Financial District. The startup competes with the likes of One Medical and Forward, though it doesn’t charge subscription fees and is often cheaper.

Carbon Health is among the Bay Area clinics offering on-site testing for the coronavirus. Its 9 clinics in the region are open for that purpose, as are One Medical and Forward.

Drive-through test sites for the virus have also been set up by Kaiser Permanente, the Bay Area’s largest healthcare provider, at a San Francisco medical center only for members who meet the CDC criteria for testing with a doctor’s order. 

The San Francisco Bay Area is on day 4 of a 3-week shelter-in-place order directing residents to remain indoors as much as possible to stunt the spread of the virus. There are 463 confirmed cases in the Bay Area and 1,058 in the state of California. 

SEE ALSO: The US is struggling to ramp up testing for the coronavirus. Here’s how healthcare giants and startups are racing to help.

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