Walgreens limits home tests to four per customer

This photo shows home tests for COVID-19 by Abbott and Quidel on September 14, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Walgreens on Tuesday limited in-home purchases of Covid tests in its stores to four per customer as demand for tests surges ahead of the holidays and as the omicron variant spreads across the United States.

“With the incredible demand for rapid in-home testing, we have introduced a four-item purchase limit for COVID-19 testing products in our stores and digital facilities to help improve inventory as we continue to work hard. with our supplier partners to best meet customer needs, ”Walgreens spokeswoman Emily Hartwig-Mextan told CNBC.

Hartwig-Mekstan said “unprecedented growth in demand” for rapid home tests for Covid began after Thanksgiving and continued through the week before Christmas. CVS Health said it is also experiencing increased demand and is trying to replenish supplies as quickly as possible.

“In case there is a temporary shortage at a local store, our teams will develop a restocking process,” CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis told CNBC, without providing further details.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a plan to distribute 500 million home-based Covid tests that Americans can order for free through a website that is being set up by the government. However, delivery of free tests will not begin until January, when the holiday season is largely over.

Abbott Laboratories, maker of the popular homemade test Covid BionaxNOW, is shipping its tests as quickly as the company can produce them, spokesman John Koval told CNBC.

V The New York Times reported in August that workers at an Abbott factory in Maine were ordered to dump millions of parts as sales plummeted due to a drop in demand caused by a drop in Covid cases in June and July.

Koval said Abbott did not destroy the off-the-shelf BinaxNOW testing consumables, saying test components were in short supply during the pandemic. Abbott currently runs 50 million tests a month, with production expected to rise to 70 million in January, Koval said.

However, Americans need tests now as they move in crowded airports and travel on full planes ahead of the holidays. Many people are used to relying on the convenience and quick results of home tests to make sure they don’t test positive for Covid before traveling or getting together with friends and family.

New York’s outgoing Bill de Blasio said Monday that his administration is working with the White House to reduce the Big Apple deficit. New York City is currently the epicenter of a rapidly spreading omicron epidemic in the United States, with new infections skyrocketing in five boroughs.

“We are finding that supply is becoming a problem because trials are suddenly increasing across the country and we see a supply problem that needs to be addressed,” De Blasio said Monday.

Omicron is more transmissible than previous strains of the virus. In a real-life study in the United Kingdom, the Pfizer and BioNTech booster vaccine provides a high level of protection against symptomatic diseases. According to data from South Africa, the first two-dose series still protects against severe illness. However, according to the available data, the initial round of vaccinations is only 33% effective in preventing infection.

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