Everyone should be able to take a rapid home COVID test for an affordable price (IMHO, that would be $5 or less in the USA) as often as needed at this point in a pandemic. In reality, the cheapest tests available to Americans cost at least $10 per swab, and supplies are so limited that even those who can afford tests don’t have access to them.
For those of us fortunate enough to have a little more disposable income, however, there is an option available and in stock for shipping as of January 5, 2021, though at a higher price: the Cue Health Monitoring System.
Cue’s Health Monitoring system is composed of a device called the Reader, COVID-19 test cartridges sold separately, and the Cue Health App which runs on your smartphone.
The company is located in San Diego, California. Cue manufactures its test cartridges and produces its biochemistry components domestically, in house, to avoid supply chain disruptions such as we’ve all suffered this year.
Cue Reader at home molecular COVID-19 test
My family bought a Cue Reader home molecular test device ($249) at the end of 2021. Test cartridges are sold separately direct from Cue. They’re currently available in packs of three ($225) or ten ($712.50) or bundled with membership services in even more expensive packages.
We used a Cue COVID-19 test for the first time on January 1, 2022 to test our vaccinated but un-boosted teen after a cross-country flight. This was before he spent an hour—still masked, just in case!—visiting his vaccinated, boosted, but vulnerable grandfather.
A Cue COVID-19 test is a molecular test. This is more like a laboratory-based PCR test in quality than the typical home antigen test purchased at a drugstore, but the technical process isn’t identical to the hospital version.
The COVID-19 test is an FDA approved test under Emergency Use Authorization EUA210180, the same level of approval as most other COVID-19 tests and treatments.
Cue’s COVID-19 detection cartridge is a test you perform yourself, at home, with the Reader automatically processing your swab right in your living room or kitchen, bathroom, etc.
There are no samples to ship; no run to the post office or a FedEx drop box is required.
To use the Cue Reader, you swab your nostrils, stick the swab into the otherwise sealed test cartridge you’ve placed in your machine, and initiate processing via your cell phone. You’ll have a result displayed on your phone in about 20 minutes without leaving your house for about $75 per test.
Cue COVID-19 tests are accurate enough to be used for international travel, but to do so requires an expensive, upgraded subscription option that covers medical supervision via video for a certified result. I’ll talk about access to certified tests via “Cue+” membership later in this post, but it’s not required for personal virus screening. Continue reading