For students at some schools, the test is being offered free of charge, but colleges are spending “millions” to get the test to students.
“The schools we spoke with told us the tests are an investment (to) try and protect students and staff,” Nguyen said.
For people who want to buy a test on their own, it currently costs $150 to order the kit directly from Vault Health. However, the company says that as they run more tests, the cost of the kit will go down. Insurance may also cover some of the cost.
How effective is it?
Feldman said that the Vault Health test has “a 1% of even less than 1% false-negative rate,” potentially reducing concerns about misdiagnoses, but other experts warn that there’s not yet enough data to know how much virus is present in saliva.
“(Saliva tests) are generally very accurate,” said Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the virology division at the University of Washington in Seattle. “They’re probably a little less sensitive than the nasal swab, which is the term used to mean that if people have very, very small amounts of virus, it’s possible that the nasal swab would detect that whereas the saliva wouldn’t.”
How long does it take?
According to Vault Health, the results of the test are available within two or three days; Nguyen said that she received her results in two days.
At Purdue University, students are being asked to take the test within two weeks of arriving on campus. Other schools, including colleges, high schools, and elementary schools, are planning to keep tests on hand for students and staff in case of exposure.
“They get the results back in a couple of days, and will know quickly if they need to quarantine,” Nguyen said.