An at-home Covid-19 testing kit was Amir Blumenfeld’s choice for the Secret Santa gift exchange because it was practical. Peace of mind is the best gift one can receive, in my opinion. Blumenfeld, a comedian who is 38 years old, sent a direct message to the Twitter account of a friend.
To put it another way, he made light of a serious problem: Coronavirus cases are rising in America because of an outbreak in Omicron, a highly contagious form of the virus. Demand for Covid tests has risen sharply in the lead up to the Christmas season as families look for safe ways to get together.
Some people have waited in line for hours at local testing centres to get polymerase chain reaction tests, which are considered the gold standard for detecting the virus because they are done in a lab. As a result, pharmacies and online retailers have run out of supplies of rapid at-home tests. There is a huge demand for at-home testing kits, which has made them sought-after holiday gifts.
A plan to combat the spread of Omicron is expected from Vice President Biden on Tuesday, which includes distributing 500 million free rapid tests to the general public, though it is not yet clear how this target number will be met. Free rapid tests are also being offered in several other states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
More than 50 million BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits are being produced each month by Abbott Laboratories, which made headlines in August for destroying materials used in its tests due to limited shelf life. The company plans to increase its monthly output to 70 million units in January.
swabs, nitrocellulose strips and even paper labelling — many of which have been in short supply during the pandemic — so that we could have them in the event that we needed to scale back up, which is exactly what is happening now,” said John Koval, a company spokesman in a press release.
Demand for at-home tests has increased in pharmacies, with the majority costing between $7 and $24. Some retailers are instituting limits on the number of items that customers can purchase.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented increase in demand for rapid OTC Covid-19 tests across the country following Thanksgiving and leading up to the upcoming holiday week,” a Walgreens spokesperson said. “There may be a shortfall of OTC testing solutions in some stores.” A four-item purchase limit for test kits was implemented on Tuesday, according to the spokesperson.
“At this time, we are experiencing inventory shortages on some Covid-19 tests due to increased demand,” a representative for Amazon said, and the company is working to “secure additional Covid-19 test inventory” from its selling partners.
According to a statement from Rite Aid, “demand is simply outpacing supply from manufacturers in many areas.”
In order to meet this year’s “strong” demand, a Target spokesperson said the company was working with vendors to find solutions. Walmart and CVS representatives said that online inventory for testing kits was limited. The “inventory levels” in Walmart stores are said to be substantial, according to a Walmart spokesperson.
Covid at-home testing has been tracked by the creator of NowInStock.net, Justin Vavrick, since the spring, and his statements were corroborated.
In a phone interview, Mr. Vavrick said, “I think a lot of the inventory has been transferred to the stores.” Pickup in-store is where you’re most likely to succeed.”
What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus Pandemic
Because of the Omicron variant, some people have been hoarding testing kits to be ready for when the time comes. Genetic genealogy expert Amber Decker says she began stockpiling a few tests ahead of a trip she and her friends were planning for the new year. For her, it was important that she could ask everyone for a test without requiring them to fork over their own money. Thus, whenever testing kits were offered for sale, she purchased one.
Currently, Ms. Decker is undergoing 13 different tests, and she has just placed an order for an additional eight. “With Omicron, it looks like we will probably need to use them more often,” she said. “We have used home tests a few times in the past when we had worrying symptoms.” Nevertheless, the costs of the tests, according to Ms. Decker, “really add up”.
Biden announced last week that private insurance companies will begin reimbursing consumers in mid-January for home tests purchased over the counter. It’s been difficult to get tests because of the cost and time required to find them.
In Champaign, Ill., Cynthia D’Angelo made the realisation that the best gift of the season is not a 1954 convertible or an NFT, but a test kit after visiting half a dozen pharmacies.
As an immunocompromised University of Illinois assistant professor, Ms. D’Angelo said that the university has been providing free rapid testing to faculty and staff since last summer. As a result, she went out and purchased a few rapid test kits of her own.
When Ms. D’Angelo, 40, went to six pharmacies in Champaign, “they were all out,” she said in a phone interview. “I literally went to six different pharmacies.” “If I’d arrived five minutes earlier, I would have gotten the last one off the shelves at the first place,” says the customer.
Fortunately, a friend of hers who lives an hour away has offered to perform some tests for her.
I am paying her back, but it was a gift that she was able to get them and bring them to me,” Ms. D’Angelo explained. And I’ll be bringing them back to California to show them to my family there.”