Pharmacist Liz Holmgren holds a FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test kit. Holmgren says the tests are 94-percent accurate and are good for people “going into a group, and you want to make sure you’re safe.” The kits retail for $13 and are available at both Harry Race and White’s pharmacies (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Sitka now has an over-the-counter covid test available for use in the home.

The FlowFlex Rapid Antigen test is available in limited quantities from Harry Race and White’s pharmacies, and retails for $13 per test.

KCAW’s Robert Woolsey visited Harry Race and spoke with pharmacist Liz Holmgren, who said that the tests have been stocked in Sitka on the recommendation of Alaska’s chief medical officer Dr. Anne Zink.

Holmgren – I guess there was some controversy, and we started carrying it because she’s (Dr. Zink) approved it, and decided that there’s enough information out there to make it good. It’s 94-percent accurate, so it’s not 100-percent.

KCAW –  Who should take it? Who should get this?

Holmgren – Yes, it’s saying if you’re going to be in a group, and you want to know if you’re safe, you could do it that way. Before joining indoor gatherings with others that you’re not sure about, that’s a good option. It’s not as good as the PCR (aka polymerase chain reaction tests, or laboratory tests), so I don’t know if it’s effective enough for the airlines.

KCAW – Is this the same version of the rapid test that they’ve been giving…

Holmgren – Like at the schools? Yes, I believe it’s the same as the schools have been giving.

KCAW – And how many tests in each box?

Holmgren – In here it’s one, and they’re saying to repeat sometimes, so you’d have to buy two.

KCAW – And how many tests are in Sitka?

Holmgren – We have 13 here at the moment, and some at White’s (Pharmacy) too.

As Holmgren stated, a home antigen test does not meet CDC guidelines for air travel, except under very limited circumstances when other tests may not be available. And although FlowFlex is a very similar product, the rapid antigen kit used in the voluntary testing program in Sitka’s schools is called BinaxNOW, from Abbott Laboratories.

Home test kits are going to become more common in the near future. In an address from the White House this morning (Tuesday 12-21-21), President Biden announced that the government is going to purchase and distribute 500 million free home testing kits around the country.