A new medical testing startup called Detect began selling at-home molecular COVID-19 tests through its website last week. The company also announced its CEO — Hugo Barra, a former executive at companies like Meta and Google who previously worked on hardware products like smartphones and virtual reality.
The timing was sadly serendipitous — the launch coincided with a near-unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States, driven by the omicron variant. It’s nearly impossible to find an at-home test for the virus. Detect’s website shows that its tests are sold out and notes that “limited quantities” will be available at noon each day.
“During this kind of high pressure, high tension period, where people really need these tests, we’re operating just in time — we receive inventory, we put it up for sale and literally ship it out the door,” Barra told The Verge. Right now, customers are limited to one test per household, spokesperson Anthony Ramos said in an email to The Verge. Detect’s multi-use testing platform and one single-use test sells for $75. Additional tests are $49 each.
“we’re operating just in time”
Detect’s tests look for the virus’s genetic material, like the PCR tests that get sent to laboratories for analysis. The company joins a handful of other groups making similar at-home molecular tests. They’re different from rapid at-home antigen tests, which look for proteins on the surface of the virus (and can be less…