Walmart Inc. said Thursday that access to covid-19 home-test collection kits is now available through its e-commerce sites Walmart.com and SamsClub.com.
The kits, supplied by myLAB Box, range in price from $99 to $135. It is unclear whether the tests are covered by health insurers.
Lori Flees, senior vice president and chief operating officer of health and wellness for Walmart U.S., said in a release that the company has made several test-kit options available.
"Offering options allows individuals to choose the sample collection method that is right for them depending on what type of sample they would like to provide (nasal swab vs. saliva); if they want a sample to be tested for flu; and the ship-to-home delivery time," Flees said.
A study by the Yale School of Medicine, published Sept. 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that saliva tests may be more sensitive in detecting the coronavirus that causes covid-19 than those using nasal swabs.
To get a kit, customers must buy a code that provides access to a heath survey. If the survey shows a test is appropriate for the customer, a physician's order will be generated and the purchase is completed.
The kit will be mailed to the customer, who then must collect the sample and mail it to a lab. Flees said the kits can provide results in 24 to 48 hours after they are received by the lab, and some kits come with a service that will make a phone call to the customer if a test proves positive.
A footnote attached to the news release states that the tests have not been cleared or approved by the Food and Drug Administration but has received FDA emergency authorization to be used by approved labs.
The FDA states on its website that that the agency "is supportive of at-home self-collection and has authorized various covid-19 molecular diagnostic tests for home collection of specimens to be sent to a laboratory for processing."
Molecular tests are one of two types of diagnostic tests, according to the FDA. Antigen tests are the other type.
Warehouse retailer Costco started selling a saliva test kit made by P23 Labs on its website in October. A home collection kit developed by the Kroger Co.'s health division received FDA emergency authorization on June 30 but is only available in a handful of states.
Likewise, Albertsons Cos. began offering at-home saliva tests in September in select markets.
In all, the FDA site lists 32 molecular diagnostic home-collection kits that received emergency-use approval between March 15 and Tuesday.
The Walton family -- heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton -- is helping fund efforts by Springdale firm NowDiagnostics to develop an at-home saliva test for covid-19 and a blood test that can detect the virus's antibodies. NowDiagnostics applied last month for FDA emergency-use authorization for its antibody test, according to The Wall Street Journal.