In a recent interview with BUILD, comedian Chris D'Elia mentioned that prior to filming a Joe Rogan Experience episode, he was tested for COVID-19. The interviewer, Ricky Camillieri, shocked, asks, "How is Joe Rogan's podcast getting tests?"
D'Elia answers with "because Joe is paying for it. That's why. Joe is basically Bruce Wayne, that's why."
Camillieri moves on, saying he doesn't want to spike his blood pressure during an interview.
Tests have been readily available for celebrities and other wealthy people, especially in a state with a backlog of tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests, and in a country with a national shortage. Rogan, like many members of the celebrity class, has been using an on-demand luxury medical service.
A video of recent Rogan podcast guest Bryan Callen shows Callen and Rogan meeting with a doctor, who just administered the COVID-19 antibody test. The doctor, Dr. Abe Malkin, is part of Concierge MD LA, "a premium provider of high-end, on-demand, and personalized medical care in Los Angeles." Concierge offers "in-home coronavirus testing" for $299.
Dr. Malkin, in conversation with VICE, said that Concierge MD LA began offering nasal swab testing several weeks ago, which was difficult given the shortage of protective equipment and swabs. Now, however, he is mostly administering an antibody test, not approved by the FDA.
"There's about 70 companies producing antibody tests, and only one of them is FDA approved, that's Cellex. I don't know how the hell they got that contract that they got FDA approval, but it's impossible to get those tests," Dr. Malkin said.
"I give everyone a disclaimer, it's not FDA approved, you can't use this for diagnosis, it's more for peace of mind, for epidemiologic data. But if they need a definitive diagnosis, they have to get a nasal swab," Dr. Malkin said.
"I've tested about 300 [people] in the last week, about 5% of asymptomatic people turn up positive on antibody testing, and about 10 to 20% of symptomatic people have showed up positive on antibody testing. And everyone that was a known positive, has shown up positive on antibody testing," Dr. Malkin said, noting this is in line with statistics he's seen elsewhere.
Malkin also owns an intravenous hydration company, Drip Hydration, with locations in New York, Miami, Denver, Seattle, Utah, and across California. He said he is currently broadening testing to these facilities as well.
Rogan's access to medical testing, provided as a perk for podcast guests (and his own safety) reveals a new normal for celebrities. If you're in the Los Angeles area, an in-home house call with Concierge MD LA will run you $299. But if you happen to be an upcoming guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, you can look forward to a test, on the house.