Products

We can't recommend the Circle HealthPod by Prenetics, here's why

Circle HealthPod markets itself as the PCR-Quality at-home Testing that is 500x more accurate than a rapid antigen test. Is this too good to be true?

7th March, 2022

Circle HealthPod markets itself as the "PCR-Quality At-Home Testing", stating that their reusable ($120 single-use capsules are still required) Molecular Amplification Heater can detect asymptomatic patients even at low viral COVID genetic materials presence, basically out-performing antigen tests which usually works better at higher levels of viral load. They state that "Molecular tests are 500x more accurate than other methods such as antigen tests."

Allegedly developed by the University of Oxford Professors, the Circle HealthPod is also endorsed by an impressive lineup of celebrities and KOLs including Ian@MIRROR, Donnie Yen, Grace Chan, and Coffee Lam. That is 3 more celebrities than Indicaid's Dodo Cheng.

The Circle HealthPod App is also available on the App Store and Google Play to provide step-by-step usage guidance and store test results for up to 10 profiles.

As of today, the Circle HealthPod is currently sold out due to high demand and is due to re-stock in 3-4 weeks, according to their website. This begs the question:

Is the Circle HealthPod really that good?

Lack of lab data

In our initial market research concerning 126 consumer COVID rapid testing products, we were unable to find the sensitivity and specificity for 17 products. 3 of them are Circle HealthPod products.

Most COVID rapid antigen tests (RAT) include a simple table of lab results within their user manual, at least stating the clinical methods of obtaining test results relative to PCR tests in a summary that typically looks like this:

In this type of study, the total amount of positive and negative results from the RAT and PCR test are compared, then the relative sensitivity and specificity are calculated.

After carefully studying their instruction manuals and "research summary" both available on their website, we were unable to find any lab tests of this nature. Their "research summary" doesn't provide much insight into the testing methodologies and is only about the efficiency of detecting the Omicron variant. We were also unable to find the full study cited under that summary, and we searched through major scientific journals and Google Scholar.

The only piece of information we were able to gather about Circle HealthPod's sensitivity and specificity is an article on their website, which we are going to paste below since it is succinct:

"What's the accuracy of Circle HealthPod tests?

HealthPod test has an accuracy of 98.4%"

PCR testing, which is a type of molecular test, has been proven to be highly effective compared to rapid antigen tests. We don’t know if Circle HealthPod’s molecular test’s performance when compared to a PCR test or a rapid antigen test. Home PCR-like testing that is 500x more accurate than average rapid antigen tests is a bold and enticing claim, but is Circle HealthPod really that good? We don’t know, since there is a lack of available information regarding this product.

Warning issued by the FDA Philippines

The Food and Drug Administration Philippines "warns all healthcare professionals and the general public NOT TO PURCHASE AND USE the uncertified Covid-19 test kit (Circle HealthPod)."

Conclusion

Until we see better evidence to support Circle HealthPod's marketing claims, we cannot recommend this product to any consumer yet, unfortunately.