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02/16/2021

Kroger to debut smartphone-based rapid COVID-19 test

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

The Kroger Co. is preparing a high-tech upgrade to its at-home COVID-19 testing solution.

Kroger Health, the health care division of the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, plans to offer the first smartphone-enabled, at-home Gauss COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit to patients nationwide. The new mobile kit will expand the company's existing portfolio of in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 testing solutions.

The new at-home testing solution, which is currently awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA), will offer access to testing technology developed by Gauss, a provider of computer vision-aided healthcare diagnostics. Once authorized, it will be the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed using only a smartphone and a lateral flow assay (similar to an at-home pregnancy test), without involving a laboratory, a telemedicine visit, or any specialized electronics. 

To use the test, patients follow step-by-step video instructions in an app to properly collect the nasal swab and complete the rapid antigen test. After 15 minutes, the app prompts the patient to scan their rapid test. The app uses patent-pending, artificial-intelligence-based technology to provide patients with their results in seconds, helping minimize reader variability. 

Gauss has produced its first 1.5 million tests, which will be available for immediate distribution when the test receives EUA from the FDA, and the company has the capability to produce up to 30 million tests per month. Kroger Health expects the at-home rapid antigen test will be available to purchase on Kroger.com and over the counter at its 2,200 pharmacies nationwide.

The test, developed by Gauss and Cellex, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in rapid diagnostics, is powered by an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant, smartphone app. To fulfill legal reporting requirements, the app also shares the HIPAA-compliant results with appropriate public health agencies.

"Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kroger Heath has remained committed to helping people live healthier lives by offering a variety of COVID-19 testing solutions supported by our multi-disciplinary team of licensed, trained and experienced healthcare providers," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "We're proud to partner with Gauss to expand our COVIDCare+ suite with the forthcoming launch of this affordable, innovative solution."