In a Nutshell
- Non-invasive collection
- Get results online
- Test outcome evaluated by a physician
- Saliva tests could be less accurate than swabs
- Live infection testing only
- Limited experience in disease testing
Everlywell at a Glance
Why Go With Vitagene
Although several at-home COVID-19 tests are already on the market, Vitagene stands out because its kit only requires you to provide a saliva sample, instead of using an invasive nasal or throat swab. Some users prefer this test format because collecting a saliva specimen is easy to do.
Vitagene cites a study that suggests saliva-based COVID-19 tests are more sensitive than other test types, but concerns have also been raised about their accuracy. Nevertheless, Vitagene’s website says that it partners exclusively with a lab whose validation data and reports have been reviewed by the FDA.
What it Tests For
Vitagene’s COVID-19 test can show whether or not you have unique markers of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in your saliva. To do this, the test uses a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to increase trace amounts of genetic material and make them detectable. Unlike some testing services, Vitagene does not offer an antibody test. Vitagene’s test can only show if you are infected at the time you provide your sample.
How it Works
With Vitagene, you can order, take, and get results from your COVID-19 test at home. The first step is to answer a short screening questionnaire. If this shows you are eligible to take the test, you can place an order for one. When it arrives, simply provide your saliva sample and send it back to Vitagene’s lab. Your test results will be made available within 72 hours of the lab receiving the sample.
What’s in the Box?
Unfortunately, Vitagene does not list exactly what materials you get with its test kit online. The company failed to respond to our message requesting further test details, so we were unable to follow up with a question about the included testing materials.
However, similar saliva-based COVID-19 test kits that have received FDA approval come with saliva specimen sample collection tube, cap, biohazard bag, absorbent sheet, and return shipping box. We presume that Vitagene provides a kit of similar design but have not been able to confirm that it does.
Before you can order a testing kit, you’ll need to take a short assessment. During this, you’ll answer questions about your current symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, Vitagene’s website will recommend that you seek medical assistance immediately rather than purchasing its testing package.
Once you receive your testing kit, you’ll be able to register it at 1health.io/register. After that, you’ll follow a series of on-screen instructions that will explain how to collect your sample correctly. According to Vitagene’s guidance, you mustn’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink for 30 minutes before providing your sample.
Vitagene hasn’t made its sample collection instructions public and, because the company did not respond to our message, we were unable to ask for further details regarding this procedure. However, for COVID-19 saliva-based tests available elsewhere, key collection steps include washing hands carefully before beginning, spitting into a specimen tube until saliva reaches a pre-marked fill line, and carefully resealing the tube.
How Long for Results?
It should take no longer than 72 hours after receiving your sample for Vitagene’s partner lab service to process your results and make them available online. However, that doesn’t take shipping into account.
Vitagene says all mailing is done by express mail and that it will take approximately 2 to 3 days for your test kit to be delivered after your order is placed. A similar amount of time may be required for the kit to reach the Vitagene’s partner lab after you have collected and posted your sample.
All Vitagene COVID-19 tests are evaluated and approved by an independent board-certified physician from your state before being made available to you. When you log in to see your results, the Vitagene platform will offer recommendations that match your test outcome.
Once you have seen your results, Vitagene will let you arrange a telehealth consultation with an independent physician. During this session, any questions you have about the test or its outcome can be answered.
Vitagene’s COVID-19 at-home saliva test kit costs a fixed $129. That’s more expensive than some competitors but still represents good value for money given that Vitagene throws in priority shipping by default.
Assistance is available via email and agents are on hand during standard Pacific Time working hours. During our assessment of this service, we did not receive a timely response to our emailed query.
If you are looking for an at-home and non-invasive COVID-19 test, Vitagene is one of a handful of options on the market. However, this service certainly isn’t without its drawbacks in terms of customer service.