Albertsons Cos. has begun providing rapid COVID-19 molecular testing at more than half of its 1,700-plus pharmacies under a partnership with health technology firm Cue Health.
Performed by Albertsons’ pharmacy staff, the service enables customers to get Cue's lab-quality COVID test results delivered to their email in 20 minutes, San Diego-based Cue Health said yesterday. Last March, Cue received Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for its Cue COVID-19 Test for Home and OTC Use, the nation’s first molecular diagnostic COVID test available to consumers without a prescription.
Albertsons and Cue piloted the in-pharmacy COVID test program last fall at 40 pharmacies in Washington, as well as at Lumen Field for Seattle Seahawks football fans attending home games. Since then, Albertsons and Cue have rolled out the service to about 900 pharmacies and expect the nasal swab test to be available at most Albertsons Cos. pharmacies over the coming weeks.
“To offer customers convenient, quick and accurate solutions, we have partnered with Cue Health to feature these tests in our community pharmacies,” Omer Gajial, executive vice president of pharmacy and health at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., said in a statement. “Adding this diagnostic test expands options for our customers to access proactive health and wellness solutions at our stores.”
Asymptomatic customers can schedule a Cue COVID test, which carries a $99 out-of-pocket cost, at an Albertsons Cos. pharmacy by going online to scheduletest.com. Walk-ins and appointments are also available through the Albertsons local retail banner apps for people ages 2 and older, Cue reported, adding that testing for children requires consent from a parental or guardian, who must be present when the test is administered.
“This collaboration encapsulates what we believe is a critical component to the future of diagnostics: immediate access to convenient, fast and highly accurate testing solutions on the go,” explained Ayub Khattak, co-founder and CEO of Cue Health. “Whether individuals require testing for travel, work or peace of mind, in-pharmacy testing at Albertsons stores removes barriers and provides real-time data that enables customers to make more informed decisions. We are excited to work with Albertsons to offer more customers access to our innovative testing technology as we work to usher in the digital transformation of personalized health care.”
A nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), the Cue Home and OTC Test detects COVID-19 virus RNA at home or in a non-clinical setting but with the accuracy of a central lab test, according to Cue. The testing system includes a single-use sample collection wand and test cartridge that runs on the Cue Cartridge Reader, a reusable, rechargeable device which fits in the palm of a hand. Results are displayed directly on a mobile device via the Cue Health App.
Cue said its test, now being used in point-of-care settings nationwide, meets current testing entry requirements in many countries (including international air travel into the United States and Canada), and the results are accepted by many employers, schools, and sports and entertainment venues.