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World’s first phone-powered Covid-19 test up for FDA approval

Kroger Health COVID-19 smartphone test kit
(Image credit: Kroger Health)

Your smartphone could soon tell you whether you have coronavirus, if Kroger Heath gets FDA approval for the world’s first phone-centric Covid-19 rapid antigen test. 

Kroger Health announced it has plans to push out an at-home Covid-19 test that could give users a result “within seconds” thanks to the power of smartphones. This would bypass the need to go into a clinics or government testing location. 

The test will apparently work by having users perform a nasal swab, much like current Covid-19 antigen tests. But rather than rely on clinical equipment, the user can then scan the swab with their smartphone, which will use AI tech to analyze the rapid test and deliver a positive or negative result. 

Not only is this potentially one way to get mass testing across a nation, but the use of AI tech can help prevent the misreading of the lines a COVID-19 rapid antigen test serves up; think of it a little like the lines in a pregnancy test. 

Removal of doubt around a positive or negative result should help give people the confidence to either self-isolate or continue on with their daily lives without worrying about putting others at risk of coronavirus infections.

“According to results of a clinical trial submitted to the FDA in support of the solutions EUA application, the testing solution demonstrated a 93% positive agreement and 99% negative percent agreement compared to high-sensitivity, emergency-use-authorized PCR tests,” Kroger Health’s announcement explained. 

However, as promising as this sounds, the Kroger Health test will need to get Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA before it can be rolled out. Given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s potential for approval to happen more rapidly than in non-pandemic circumstances. 

If FDA approval is granted then Kroger Health and its partner Gauss have 1.5 million of the test kits to roll out immediately. And the company has the “capability to produce up to 30 million tests per month.” 

Post-approval, Kroger Health expects the test kit to be sold online via its website and over-the-counter at 2,200 pharmacies across the U.S.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.