Yesterday my teen took an over the counter, at-home Ellume COVID Test. We had her negative results in 15 minutes.
We were on our way for a day at Cedar Point when I noticed she was sniffling in the backseat. While I was pretty sure it was just a cold or a possible start to fall allergies, after consulting with her doctor, they recommended a COVID test which we scheduled for the next day. At this point, we were at a loss for how to handle our day. On one hand she is fully vaccinated and it is likely just a cold, but on the other hand a runny nose is a symptom of the delta variant. My husband had heard of the Ellume at home COVID Test and suggested she take a test to decide how to handle the day. Her test was negative and we were able to continue our Cedar Point day as planned.
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Note: This article does not constitute medical advice. I am reporting our experience with an FDA approved test.
- About Ellume COVID Test
- Get an Ellume COVID Test
- Our Thoughts on Ellume COVID Test
- Other Testing Options
- Best COVID Prevention Strategies
About Ellume COVID Test
The Ellume COVID Test is a 15 minute OTC antigen test using a nasal swab sample. The test does have Emergency Use Approval from the FDA.
From the FDA’s announcement, the test is highly accurate:
The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test correctly identified 96% of positive samples and 100% of negative samples in individuals with symptoms. In people without symptoms, the test correctly identified 91% of positive samples and 96% of negative samples.FDA News Release – December 15, 2020 – FDA Authorizes Antigen Test as First Over-the-Counter Fully At-Home Diagnostic Test for COVID-19
My daughter tested negative. We did follow up with her doctor today. She got a second negative test there. We were a little extra cautious this week since my husband has dental work planned for tomorrow.
Advantages of Ellume COVID Test
The Ellume COVID Test is truly a 15 minute test. Some other home tests require the collection of samples several days apart and then process those in minutes. The Ellume test is based on a single collection. The test works through your bluetooth enabled smartphone and automatically reports test results to the health authorities.
Who Can Use an Ellume COVID Test
The Ellume COVID Test can be used by ages 2 and older. It comes with a child guard to shorten the nasal swab length for children 2-12. An adult should administer the test for children under 15.
The test does warn you not to do multiple tests within 30 feet of each other. It is not clear what the reasoning is. It could be due to potential bluetooth conflicts or due to cross contamination. If you want to run multiple tests for the family, I suggest running them sequentially instead of at the same time.
The box includes 4 components:
- Processing Liquid
- Nasal Swab with child adapter
You will also need a bluetooth enabled smartphone with the Ellume app installed on it. The app will give you your test result and also report an positive tests to the appropriate health authorities.
Preparing the Test
Make sure your phone is charged (they recommend 20% minimum) or connected to a charger
Before taking the test, be sure to download the Ellume App. The first step of each test is collecting information – some is optional, others are required.
Required Information on Patient:
- Date of Birth
- Zip Code
- Confirm age (2-12 or 13+)
Optional Information on Patient:
- Phone Number
- Email (use a parent’s for a minor – recommended so you can share your results with a doctor, employer, school, camp, etc)
- Home Address (state and zip code are required, street address is optional)
Watch the video included in the app that describes the process to you. The video will be slightly different for ages 2-12 as it includes using the child guard
You will also need a flat surface for the analyzer. I recommend a table or counter. Since my daughter did hers in the car, we used the arm rest/cupholder in the middle of the back seat.
I recommend having tissues readily available on the table. My daughter said it tickled and she immediately asked for tissues when she was done.
For young children, the instructions recommend having two adults – one to hold and calm the child and one to do the nasal swab and processing.
Taking the Ellume COVID Test
The test is 6 simple steps. While the video on the app demonstrates the steps, after the video it will give you step by step directions.
- Turn on the Analyzer and connect to your phone via BlueTooth
- Add processing liquid to dropper bottle
- Collect a nasal swab in both nostrils (For ages 13+ remove child adapter before swabbing, for ages 2-12 remove after swabbing)
- Screw the nasal swab onto the top of the dropper bottle
- Squeeze 5 drops onto the analyzer
- Wait 15 minutes for the results
When done, the test is disposable. The analyzer has a button battery that can be easily removed for proper disposal and the rest of the testing equipment can go in the general trash.
Get an Ellume COVID Test
Where to Buy
We bought our test at a CVS in Bellevue, OH. The two CVS stores in Sandusky were sold out. The tests are also available from Target and Walmart online, but not in stores. We were happy with the results and ease of the test. (Note while I was writing this, Target online sold out)
Pricing on an Ellume COVID Test
The Ellume COVID Test was $38.99 at CVS. When we needed a test near Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), both the CVS Stores in Sandusky were sold out. We drove 15 miles (30 minutes each way), to Bellevue, OH to purchase the test. As of this writing, the test is available at all local CVS Stores except the store on Washtenaw Ave in Ypsilanti (low stock on Michigan Ave in Ypsilanti). However, with school returning next week I do worry that the supply will become more limited.
Target and Walmart sell the Ellume Test for $34.99 online. They do not seem to be available in store anywhere (locally or throughout the country). Note while I was writing this article, Target sold out online.
Amazon has the Ellume test listed, but they are not available as this article was written..
Our Thoughts on Ellume COVID Test
We were very happy with the Ellume COVID Test. We had a negative test less than an hour after deciding to run the test. It would have been faster if we didn’t have to drive 30 minutes to a CVS with the test kit in stock. We did not have to wait for an appointment or for processing like we would have with a PCR test.
The Ellume COVID Test was very easy to do. My 15 year old was able to collect her own sample, but preferred me to do the processing. After spending $39 on the test and knowing they were in limited quantity, I definitely wanted to make sure we did it properly and did not have to purchase another kit.
At $35-39, the test is a little too expensive to use for regular monitoring. Since test supply seems to be limited, we have ordered a test so we have one for the next time any of us develops symptoms or has a known exposure. Being able to get an answer right away was well worth the cost.
My Wish List for Ellume
We were very happy with Ellume, but I do wish there was a more sustainable option. I’d love to see a two part system. A reusable analyzer and a refill kit that is one time use. I would gladly pay more for the initial kit and a smaller amount for the refill kit.
Also, each time you run the test you need to watch the video before proceeding. A way to skip the video once you have watched it would be appreciated.
Other Testing Options
The Ellume is just one test option. There are several other options.
Approved Home Tests
There are other approved tests available. We are including only those available for Over the Counter Use (OTC), no prescription needed.
The Quidel QuickVue At-Home test is approved for Over the Counter use in a screening mode. The kit includes 2 tests designed to be done 3 days apart.
Amazon currently has none available.
It is sold at Walgreens. I checked several local stores and none have it available for same day delivery, and in store shopping says to check the store. My guess is they don’t currently have them in stock locally. They are available online. The Quidel QuickVue costs $24.
Walmart also sells them online. They are currently not available.
The BinaxNow is also approved for for use at home. The test kit includes 2 tests which are supposed to be performed 2-3 days apart.
CVS is a great source for the BinaxNow. It is currently available at many of our local CVS stores in the Ann Arbor area. It is also in stock for shipping. They sell the BinaxNow for $24.
Walmart has the BinaxNow test in limited quantities at the Saline Walmart as well as nearby stores in Canton and Belleville. It is not currently available for shipping. They are currently selling it for $19.88 in store.
The BinaxNow test is sold on Amazon, but is not available at the time of publication.
There are also many testing sites locally where you can get a COVID test either a PCR or a rapid antigen test. We followed up my daughter’s Ellume test with a rapid test at her doctors office.
Find Ann Arbor testing sites here:
Best COVID Prevention Strategies
Remember the best protection against COVID is to get your vaccine when you are eligible. The Pfizer vaccine now has full FDA approval for ages 16+ and Emergency Use Approval for ages 12-15. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have emergency use approval for ages 18+.
The next best strategy is universal masking. Please wear a mask indoors in public places whether you are vaccinated or not.
Stay home when you are sick.