Last week the Oakland International Airport became the first airport in the country to sell rapid coronavirus tests in vending machines, according to airport authorities. The contactless machines are available at both airport terminals.
The Wellness 4 Humanity testing kits range from $130-$150 and are of the at-home Saliva RT-PCR variety. Patients are told to mail a saliva sample via FedEx and receive their results on a mobile phone app within 24 to 48 hours of a lab receiving the sample. According to the Wellness 4 Humanity website, free standard shipping is included with the test and the price can be reimbursed by some health insurance providers.
The tests are not necessarily a cure-all for safe travel, given the wait time before patients receive their results. However, the tests are rapid enough to bring passengers some relief, especially if they are quarantining upon arrival.
The press release also says the tests are different than those required for travelers to Hawaii, who must undergo a 10-day quarantine, or, for islands other than Kauai, show results of a recent negative test from a designated “trusted partner” provider.
“As one of the first airports to offer on-site rapid COVID testing, we are now providing even more testing options for travelers,” said Port of Oakland Aviation Director Bryant L. Francis in the press release. He additionally asked that travelers to quarantine and follow regulations as dictated by their destination.
The tests are the first FDA emergency use authorization saliva test. Though less rapid than the COVID Antigen test that usually renders results within 30 minutes, the saliva test is significantly more accurate. The tests yield a false result less than 0.1% of the time.
Wellness 4 Humanity and partner medical device company Spectrum Solutions plan to make the vending machines widely available, far beyond airports. The first vending machine was installed in an office building in NYC last week, and the companies also plan to establish vending machines in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Dallas.
Wellness 4 Humanity CEO and co-founder Lian Nguyen Pham says they hope the innovative technology can help the United States catch up to testing developments in other countries. “We’ve seen similar vending machines placed in highly populated, highly trafficked areas of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom to help contain the spread of the virus,” she said in December. “Given the surge in cases the U.S. is currently experiencing, we hope to roll out our vending machines as soon as possible.”