A different kind of coronavirus test could be a big part of a solution to the nation's backlog. But it comes with a cost and a catch.By Andy Sheehan

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) – While private labs and pharmacies have been deluged with the demand for COVID testing and results have slowed to a trickle, a sign on William Penn Highway in front of an urgent care center promises a quick and easy alternative to two-week delays.

iCare Medical Urgent Care in Murrysville is offering rapid COVID testing with results in 20 minutes.

Clients call ahead and Dr. John Kolonich meets them at their car, where he administers what’s called an antigen test.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

It’s different from the standard test, which reads the virus DNA and is sent to a lab, usually taking days for results. This test reads antigens — proteins on the surface of the virus — and results come in 20 minutes or less.

If used widely, antigen tests have the potential to clean up the nationwide backlog.

The FDA approved the test in May, but it’s still not widely used here or across the country. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says that’s because it’s less reliable than the standard test and more prone to false negatives.

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And while iCare offers this alternative, it’s also charging an upfront fee of $90 dollars to get the antigen test — even though the Families Needs Act passed by Congress mandates that all COVID testing be free or covered by insurance.

In statement, iCare says it gives patients the option of having insurance pay for the standard test or paying upfront for the antigen test and getting the quicker result.