JetBlue's COVID-19 PCR Test via Vault Health is a potential game changer. United Airlines is offering a 15 minute airport coronavirus test at San Francisco SFO for its Hawaii-bound passengers, and Hawaiian Airlines will offer drive-through COVID-19 PCR testing near LAX and SFO by partnering with Worksite Labs.
But Vault Health offers the only FDA-authorized COVID-19 test where the saliva collection is done at home, monitored via Zoom video call, thereby avoiding any in-person interaction and obviating a nasal swab. Here are the details:
COVID-19 Test Specifications
The Vault Health COVID-19 test is a RT-PCR-based test run by the Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory at RUCDR Infinite Biologics. Instead of a nasal swab, it uses the saliva sample that a patient takes at home (only under supervision of a Vault Health test supervisor via a Zoom video call). According to Vault Health, the test can detect fewer than 10 copies of SARS-CoV-2 genes per milliliter of saliva, and can detect the presence of the virus within 2 days-28 days post-infection.
Do All Countries That Require a PCR Test Accept the Vault Health PCR Test?
No–and because some countries may not accept saliva-based PCR testing or PCR tests where the collection is at home (even though supervised remotely by video call) you should definitely check with the health authority for the country you'll be using it for.
JetBlue notes on its Web site that at time of writing, Aruba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and St. Maarten do not currently accept the Vault Health COVID-19 PCR test.
Also note that because it can take 72 hours *after* the lab receives the sample to provide the results to you, it may only be practical for countries where the test can be taken within the week prior to arrival. That's because you need to send the sample back by mail, and the Vault Health site recommends obtaining the testing kit at least 6 days prior to when you'll need the test results.
What is the PCR Test Cost?
The Vault Health RT-PCR COVID-19 test normally costs $150 per person, but JetBlue customers who order it using their JetBlue confirmation number at the vaulthealth.com/jetblue site receive a $7 discount and pay $143 per person.
What is the Process?
- Go to the above Vault Health link and register an account. Each person getting tested will need his/her own email address and will need to create a password.
- Complete the questions, including COVID-19 symptom screening questions, upload a copy of a government issued photo ID, and pay.
- It's best to order the test Monday-Wednesday if you need to receive it by Friday, as Thursday orders may not be sent out until the following Monday.
- For the 48 contiguous U.S. states, the test is typically received the following day, assuming the order was placed Monday-Wednesday before 3pm ET.
- Since the test must be monitored via Zoom video, don't open it until ready to initiate the Zoom video.
- Don't eat, drink, smoke or chew anything 30 minutes before providing a saliva sample
- Once you're within the required time period for the destination that requires a COVID-19 PCR test, login to your Vault Health account and click the “Meet a Provider” button
- Under the guidance of the health care professional, put the saliva sample in the provided vial, put it in the postage paid envelope, and mail it.
- The package should be delivered to the lab the following day
- You'll receive your results via email 48-72 hours after the lab receives your sample.
- Remember to take a print out of your negative test results with you when traveling
We'll write more about our experience with the test once we've taken it, but for destinations that require a negative COVID-19 PCR test within the week prior to travel and that accept the Vault Health test, which uses saliva collection at home, the new JetBlue-Vault Health partnership is very convenient, avoiding having to have an in-person nasal swab PCR test at potentially greater cost.
Have you had to get a COVID-19 PCR test prior to travel?
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