Nearly 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for accurate testing is more important than ever. Testing technology has come a long way since the 2019 coronavirus emerged, and there are now a number of options for in-person and at-home testing.

Labcorp was the first company to get approval for home testing collection kits from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 2020, and it continues to offer both at-home and in-person testing options.

This article will take a look at how the Pixel by Labcorp tests work.

Pixel by Labcorp uses reverse polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing technology. These tests are also called molecular or nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT).

PCR tests look for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 particles in samples, identifying bits of genetic material to confirm the presence of the virus and its subtype or variant. According to data provided by Labcorp, the Pixel tests are 95 percent accurate at screening for SARS-CoV-2 infections.

PCR testing is highly accurate when it comes to detecting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but this accuracy comes at a cost. Results of PCR testing are not immediate and can’t be done completely at home.

PCR testing requires specialized lab equipment that duplicates and magnifies genetic material from your sample to search for virus particles. The test takes a few hours to run, but because of the lab equipment and time required for this testing method, increased demands on testing have increased wait times for test results in many areas.

While PCR tests are highly accurate, there is still also a chance for inaccurate results. Testing is most accurate in people with symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and results can also vary depending on how samples are collected and processed. Labcorp says it will retest any suspicious samples for inaccurate results.

Is a PCR home test the same as a rapid home test?

Rapid tests are another option for at-home testing. These tests, also called antigen tests, look for the specific immune response your body mounts against a SARS-CoV-2 infection, rather than actual genetic material from the virus, which is what the PCR test is designed to identify.

If you have symptoms, these tests are fairly accurate, but if you have no symptoms at all when you test, you could end up with a false negative.

At this time, Labcorp does not offer a rapid antigen testing kit.

At-home tests

The Pixel by Labcorp home collection kit includes everything you need to collect a sample and send it to the company for analysis.

Each at-home PCR testing kit includes:

  • a shipping box
  • a pre-labeled FedEx envelope
  • a nasal collection swab
  • saline tube
  • insulated specimen pouch
  • gel pack for sample cooling
  • specimen biohazard bag
  • user guide and instructions

When you order a kit, you’ll first be asked a few questions about your symptoms or exposure and how you’ll pay for the test kit. Labcorp can bill the cost of the test kit to your health insurance company, but kits are also provided free of charge through federal funding for people who are uninsured or who meet certain criteria.

To receive a test kit at no charge, you must meet the following criteria:

  • you have mild symptoms of COVID-19
  • you were exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • you live or work in a group setting
  • you were asked to get tested by a healthcare professional, contact investigator, or public health department official

Once your test kit is ordered, it’ll take about 2 days to arrive to your home. Using the supplies and instructions in the kit, you’ll collect a sample using the supplied swab from the inside of your nose. Package the sample according to the instructions and attach the provided shipping label.

Results are typically available 1 to 2 days after Labcorp receives your testing kit. You’ll receive your results through a secure online portal, and you’ll have the opportunity to speak with a healthcare professional about your results.

In-person tests

Labcorp also offers an option for in-person testing at its physical laboratory locations. Your ability to use these services, however, depends on where you live and how close you are to a Labcorp facility. Labcorp has 2,000 locations located across the country, and the company’s website offers a tool to help you find your nearest location.

In-person testing can reduce errors that may arise from how you collect a sample at home to ship it, but Labcorp does ask that only people who are asymptomatic or people who have not been exposed to COVID-19 visit its facilities.

If you’re sick with symptoms of COVID-19 and want to be tested for the coronavirus, Labcorp suggests ordering an at-home test kit.

There are pros and cons to each type of COVID-19 testing. PCR tests are the most accurate tests, but it takes longer to get results. Rapid tests provide quick results, but are most accurate when you have symptoms of COVID-19.

Rapid tests are not as accurate as PCR testing when it comes to detecting asymptomatic infections or when used for screening purposes.

Pixel by Labcorp offers many different types of tests:

  • Women’s Health Blood Test
  • Men’s Health Blood Test
  • General Health Blood Test
  • Comprehensive Wellness Blood Test
  • Vitamin Deficiency Blood Test
  • Anemia Blood Test
  • Liver Health Blood Test
  • Thyroid Health Blood Test
  • Kidney Health Test Package
  • Cholesterol and Lipid Panel
  • Ferritin Blood Test
  • Heart Health Blood Test
  • Diabetes Risk Test
  • Vitamin B12 Blood Test
  • Diabetes Management Blood Test

At-home tests

Labcorp offers three types of at-home COVID-19 PCR test kits.

COVID-19 Test

  • Price: $0 up front with insurance or qualifying criteria, $119 for asymptomatic testing for screening purposes

This COVID-19 test is an at-home collection kit for the PCR test. Once the lab receives your sample, they will test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 + Flu PCR Test

  • Price: $0 up front with insurance or qualifying criteria, $169 for asymptomatic testing for screening purposes

This home collection kit includes PCR test materials capable of detecting SARS-CoV2, influenza A, or influenza B. The kit is mailed in for lab analysis of your test sample.

Small Business COVID-19 Test Collection Kits

  • Price: $119 per kit

This is also a mail-in collection kit for the PCR test. Once received, the lab will analyze your test sample for the presence of SARS-CoV2.

These kits are designed to be purchased by small businesses to offer to their employees. Kits can be purchased in multiples of 6 to 20 tests per package.

In-person tests

COVID-19 PCR Test (Labcorp Visit)

  • Price: $119 per test

This PCR test is done at a Labcorp facility and is only intended as a screening test for people who do not have any active symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Even though the sample is collected right at the lab, it’s best to allow up to 4 days to see your results.

Labcorp’s COVID-19 testing is designed for anyone ages 2 and up who needs to be screened for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

People with active symptoms should request at-home kits, as in-person testing is designed only for screening purposes and not to test people who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Labcorp has a solid reputation and has supplied ample data to the FDA about its testing products. The company also offers a number of other at-home testing kits, plus national in-house lab services.

Consumer reviews are not posted by Labcorp, but retailers who sell the kits feature mostly positive reviews about the ease of use and quickness of results delivered by the company. Negative comments primarily involved lack of availability of the test kits in retail locations.

What days is Labcorp open for testing?

Labcorp’s facilities run test samples 7 days a week. Check with Labcorp for specific times and locations in your area if you’re interested in in-person testing.

How soon do I need to collect and mail my sample?

Test kits don’t have to be used right away, but the supplies within the kit are only designed to keep your sample stable for testing for a limited time. Mail your sample as soon as possible after testing — within at least 24 hours of collection. Samples ship overnight to a Labcorp facility.

How do I know if I collected my sample correctly?

Labcorp will contact you if your sample can’t be tested for one reason or another. Arrangements may be able to be made for an in-lab collection sample, or a company representative will advise you on what to do next.

For more answers to FAQs, contact Labcorp or visit the website.

Testing is the best way to make sure you don’t have COVID-19. PCR testing offers the most accurate results, but long wait times and lab delays can make these tests cumbersome. Labcorp is one of several companies that offers at-home collection kits for COVID-19 testing as an alternative to physical testing centers.

If you have symptoms, order a test for home collection. Labcorp also offers in-person testing, but the company asks that this be used for screening only and not to diagnose active SARS-CoV-2 infections.