At-home COVID-19 saliva test kits are now available for purchase at Albertsons Companies, including Safeway pharmacies. Safeway is offering the tests in partnership with test manufacturer Phosphorus Diagnostics, with results available usually within 72 hours from the time the lab receives the test.
The specific test provided is the Phosphorus COVID-19 RT-qPCR Test and costs $139.99, which must be paid out of pocket. Pharmacies are unable to directly bill insurance, though people may be able to submit their receipt to their insurance company for reimbursement.
To request an at-home test, people must fill out a medical questionnaire at www.scheduletest.com, which will be authenticated and reviewed by a Safeway pharmacist who will order the test. Patients will be contacted for payment and will be alerted when their test kit is available for pick-up or has been delivered or shipped to their address. People who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms may not pick up their testing kits in-person.
The test kit includes a prepaid next-day shipping envelope for sample collections to be returned in and results will be provided by email or text. Test kits must be delivered to a FedEx drop box or picked up by FedEx within 24 hours of the sample collection or the results may not be accurate.
Division Manager of Pharmacy Elaine Mark said that the kits are meant to make COVID-19 testing more convenient for patients by providing delivery for people unable to get to a clinic and by providing fast results.
Mark said that it is important that people do not eat, drink, smoke or vape for at least 30 minutes before doing the test. The test itself requires the patient to spit into the tube included in the kit until the fill line is reached. Mark also recommended that patients do not complete the test on Friday or Saturday due to potential shipping delays, as tests are sent to a lab in New Jersey.
The PCR test, Mark said, is considered the standard due to its high sensitivity that produces more accurate results. Pharmacies will be equipped with eight kits to begin with, but will have the opportunity to order more if needed. People are allowed to be tested more than once, but must pay the $139.99 fee each time.
On the peninsula, there is a Safeway store in Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Homer.