- Walmart and Amazon are selling mail-in COVID-19 test kits by MyLab Box and DxTerity, respectively.
- I tried both tests and found that Amazon’s DxTerity kit was better than Walmart’s MyLab Box.
- The DxTerity kit was superior for two reasons: faster result turnaround time and clearer instructions
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
During a time of virus misinformation and a spiking number of COVID-19 cases, testing accessibility is paramount.
Studies have shown that widespread COVID-19 testing is vital to slowing down the coronavirus pandemic. But depending on the time of year and where you live, accessing these tests may be difficult, and lines could end up being hours long.
As a result, the at-home COVID-19 testing kit market is becoming saturated, and many big-name retailers like Amazon and Walmart are now starting to sell these kits as well.
I decided to try the mail-in COVID-19 tests that are now being offered through Walmart and Amazon, and found that the testing kit being sold by Amazon was superior for several reasons.
On December 3, Walmart said it would begin offering MyLab Box’s mail-in COVID-19 tests. One month later, Amazon announced it would do the same with DxTerity’s COVID-19 testing kit. Both kits have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration under its Emergency Use Authorization.
I decided to try both tests. See what the experience was like:
The type of tests and the price
I ordered Amazon’s DxTerity and Walmart‘s MyLab Box COVID-19 test saliva collection kits. Walmart also carries MyLab Box’s nasal swab kit, and both the saliva and nasal swabs kits can be ordered with standard or express shipping. In the interest of pricing and testing consistency, I ordered the MyLabBox saliva kit with standard shipping.
The price made me wince. Both cost me $118.53, which is hefty compared to the free testing clinics near me. While you’re obviously paying for convenience, it would be hard for anyone who doesn’t live a financially cushioned life to take these at-home tests frequently.
I ordered my Amazon and Walmart kits on the same day and created my MyLab Box account the day after with a code I had received from Walmart.
You won’t need to use either of the e-commerce platforms after placing your order: DxTerity and MyLab Box both handle the shipment and processing of their respective kits.
Amazon’s DxTerity kit arrived on my doorstep before Walmart’s MyLab Box. After receiving the packages, I registered both kits on their respective websites so I could later view my COVID-19 test results.
Both MyLab Box and DxTerity test-takers can register their kit using the ID code found on the saliva collection tube. Luckily, setting up the accounts only took a few minutes.
If you’ve never taken an at-home COVID-19 saliva test before, the process is simple. To boil it down, all you have to do is spit into a test tube and mail the tube back to its lab by dropping it off at a FedEx drop box. MyLab Box samples can also be delivered to a UPS depot.
Walmart’s MyLab Box can provide results within 48 hours after the lab receives the sample, while Amazon’s DxTerity results are ready within 72 hours.
Walmart’s testing kit: MyLab Box. A surprising struggle.
Both MyLab Box and DxTerity’s testing instructions state that test-takers shouldn’t eat, drink, or smoke anything 30 minutes before taking the saliva sample. As a morning coffee consumer taking two COVID-19 tests at 7 a.m., I found this protocol a bit hard to adhere to, but I’m obviously just complaining about the small things now.
The MyLab Box came with:
- a lab requisition form that asks for your personal information
- a mailing return label
- a test tube for my saliva sample
- a biohazard specimen collection bag with a small, presumably absorbent, sheet inside
- a small box to put my test tube in
- a UPS bag used to mail my sample to the lab
There was also a small sheet inside the UPS bag, but I assumed this was also another absorbent sheet.
After reading the instructions and filling in the lab requisition form, I opened up the test tube to begin the sample collection process.
Taking the saliva sample is easy: all you have to do is spit into the test tube until you hit the fill line. Luckily, the tube came with a helpful little funnel to prevent a spit spray from missing the tube (you’re welcome for that imagery). I then capped the funnel lid — which released a stabilizing solution into my sample— replaced the funnel top with the provided cap, and shook the tube for five seconds, as per the instructions.
This is where it gets confusing.
The instructions say to place the test tube in the biohazard collection bag, seal the bag up, put the bag in the box, place the absorbent sheet on top, and then close the box.
However, the graphic next to these instructions showed something different. Here, the specimen bag and test tube look like they’re about to be placed on top of some bubble wrap inside the box, and the absorbent sheet looks like it’s near the UPS bag, but not about to be placed inside the box.
Bubble wrap? I never received bubble wrap in my package.
The instructions also didn’t mention what to do with the second sheet. Was the smaller sheet found inside the specimen collection bag supposed to stay inside the bag? Or was that the sheet that was supposed to be placed on top of the bag inside of the closed box? And if the latter is the case, what do I do with the larger sheet that came inside the UPS bag?
Confused, I ended up placing the smaller sheet on top of the specimen bag and inside the box, while leaving the larger sheet inside the UPS bag. This felt wrong, but the instructions weren’t clear enough to guide me in the right direction.
I slid the closed box — filled with the smaller absorbent sheet and the collection bag with my spit-filled test tube — into the UPS bag along with the larger sheet, and sealed the package closed.
I was paranoid I had messed up the test but decided to move forward.
Amazon’s testing kit: DxTerity. Pleasantly straightforward.
Now, onto Amazon’s DxTerity kit.
The kit came with:
- a test tube
- a specimen collection plastic bag with a small white absorbent sheet
Saliva collection with DxTerity’s kit is also straightforward: just spit into the test tube until your saliva reaches the thin sqiggly line. Like MyLab Box’s test, DxTerity’s test tube also came with a handy funnel.
And yes, after spitting into two test tubes, I was parched.
As per the instructions, after my spit reached the line, I replaced the funnel with a “fluid cap,” which released the blue “viral RNA inactivation and stabilization solution” into my collection of saliva.
Afterward, I tightened the cap, shook the tube for five seconds, and dropped it into the specimen bag. This time, the instructions told its test takers to keep the absorbent sheet inside the bag.
Unlike the MyLab Box kit, the DxTerity saliva sample can be sent to the lab directly in the box that it came in. No need for a new label or a separate UPS bag. All I had to do was put the test tube inside the sample bag, place the sample bag inside the box, seal the box, and then send the box full of my spit off.
Drop off was easy — I live near several FedEx drop boxes
With my two packages ready to go, I looked up the closest FedEx drop boxes near me. Luckily, finding a drop box was pretty easy, and I was able to send my packages off in the morning well before the box’s collection time. Time to say goodbye to my test kits, and hello to my water bottle.
Results from in-person testing sites near me will often come back within 48 hours. I didn’t get this same perk with either of my mail-in tests.
However, one test result came back much faster than the other.
I completed and dropped off both tests on January 19, and received an email from DxTerity on January 21 notifying me of my COVID-19 results. Delighted by the quick results, I logged onto my DxTerity profile and was relieved to see “negative.” According to my result paperwork, my collection’s accession date was on January 20, hence the fast turnaround time.
However, MyLab Box, which had already caused me some grief during the testing process, was not as quick. Walmart states that the kit can provide results within 24 to 48 hours after the lab has received the sample, but this was not the case.
Seven days after mailing in my test, I finally received an email from MyLab Box on January 26 notifying me of my COVID-19 test result. But when I clicked on my negative results to read the report, I was confused. The document said my test was collected on January 9 and reported on January 22. It also stated that my testing report was generated on January 29.
When asked about the result turnaround time, MyLab Box’s customer service manager told Insider in an email that the majority of its tests have a 24 to 48 hour result turnaround time, but on “rare occasions,” this may differ due to shipping delays and demand spikes.
“We are all living in unprecedented times which pose many unexpected challenges to delivery services, health facilities, and our staff alike,” the email read. “We pride ourselves on our rapid turnaround time, in fact, it is a key performance metric we hold ourselves accountable to both internally and our valued partners nationwide.”
And in regards to the test result report, the company says the dates are “mainly intended for internal monitoring and some reporting purposes.”
At this time all labs are required to report both positive and negative COVID-19 test results to help the department of health track and manage the pandemic,” the email continued.”
My final verdict: Amazon’s DxTerity is the winner
After taking both tests, I can confidently say that I prefer Amazon’s DxTerity test over Walmart’s MyLab Box due to DxTerity’s straightforward instructions and result turnaround time.
At-home coronavirus tests offer convenience that can’t be found by going to a clinic in-person. For starters, the testing kit is mailed to your doorstep, which means you don’t have to walk or drive to a nearby testing facility. And if you’re in a rush to get a test but can’t book a time slot or can’t wait in line, mail-in kits may be your next best option.
However, given the price of these two kits, I would rather go to a testing facility than order another mail-in test.