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Yes, Missouri's at-home test kit program only tests for COVID

Thousands of free at-home COVID-19 tests are being handed out by the state of Missouri.

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — When Missouri residents go online to order an at-home COVID-19 testing kit, they are redirected to the Picture Genetics website, the company contracted by the state to deliver and process the tests.

That's what made 5 On your side viewer, Annie, reach out to the Verify team.

"When the test kits are sent back to Picture Genetics, what else do they use the sample for? I’m asking because this is a genetics company," asked Annie.

THE QUESTION

Does Picture Genetics only test for COVID-19?

THE SOURCES

  • Lisa Cox, spokesperson for The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Dr. Marc Johnson, University of Missouri professor of molecular biology and immunology
  • Brandon Perthuis, Chief Commercial Officer for Picture Genetics by Fulgent
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

THE ANSWER

This is true.

We can verify the free PCR tests provided by the state of Missouri and processed by Picture Genetics are authorized only to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Once testing is completed, the sample is incinerated.

WHAT WE FOUND

Spokespersons from the state and Picture Genetics confirm the test is a PCR test which is a nasal swab. 

Missouri DHSS spokesperson, Lisa Cox, told the Verify team, "these tests are only authorized to detect SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).”

The Verify team also found the authorization letter from the FDA to Picture Genetics stating strict standards to test only for SARS-CoV-2.

“We’re only looking for the presence or hopefully the absence of SARS-CoV-2. If it's positive, we may do additional studies to see which variant it is, so it's Omicron or Alpha, Delta. If it’s negative, the sample is incinerated and we move on to the next one,” said Picture Genetics Chief Commercial Officer, Brandon Perthuis.

Cox confirmed the samples are incinerated within 48 hours of the company receiving them.

If you're still worried about submitting your completed PCR test to Picture Genetics, Dr Marc. Johnson, a University of Missouri professor of molecular biology and immunology, offered his analysis.

“I don't think there's really anything to worry about. If you've ever given a blood sample, or you’ve given any sample for any procedure, the same is true for that matter. Anytime that you lick a stamp it could be true.

    

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