When Amir Blumenfeld was choosing what to purchase for a Secret Santa gift exchange, he settled on something practical: a Covid-19 testing kit that could be completed at home. “Is there a finer present than the gift of peace of mind?” Mr. Blumenfeld, a 38-year-old comedian, expressed his feelings in a direct message on the social networking platform Twitter.
At the core of his joke was a serious concern: Coronavirus infections are on the rise once again throughout the United States, as the Delta version has been replaced by Omicron, a highly infectious strain of the virus that has spread around the world. The increase in demand has driven demand for Covid testing before of the Christmas holiday season, as families look for secure places to congregate.
Some people have faced hours-long queues at local testing centres in order to acquire polymerase chain reaction tests, the findings of which are considered the gold standard for identifying the virus since they are obtained in a laboratory. Another group of people has raced to purchase speedy at-home tests, reducing supplies at pharmacies and internet retailers. The craze for at-home testing has transformed the kits into a commodity, and they’ve even become sought-after Christmas gifts due to the high demand.
According to President Biden’s announcement on Tuesday, a strategy to combat the spread of Omicron would entail the distribution of 500 million free quick tests to the general people, however it is not yet apparent how that goal number will be reached. Several states, including New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, have also put out plans to expand access to free quick testing, including the state of New York.
It was reported in August that Abbott Laboratories was discarding components used in its tests because they had exceeded their shelf life. Abbott Laboratories said that the business is presently producing more than 50 million BinaxNOW fast antigen test kits per month. The corporation has said that it would expand its production to 70 million units per month starting in January.
At-home tests, the majority of which cost between $7 and $24, have experienced a significant increase in demand at pharmacies. Some retailers are beginning to impose limitations on the number of items that each client may purchase.
The following statement was made by an Amazon representative: “At this time, we are experiencing inventory limitations on select Covid-19 tests as a result of increasing demand,” and the business is attempting to “obtain extra Covid-19 test inventory” from its selling partners.
A Target spokesman said that the firm was collaborating with partners to satisfy the “heavy” demand expected during the Christmas shopping season. Representatives from Walmart and CVS said that there was a limited supply of testing kits available online. Several Walmart spokespeople said that the “inventory levels” in the company’s locations were high.
The allegations made by the firms were supported by Justin Vavrick, the owner of NowInStock.net, a website that has been monitoring the availability of at-home Covid testing since the spring of this year.
Concerns about the Omicron strain have prompted some individuals to stockpile testing kits in anticipation of an outbreak. Ms. Decker’s initial motivation for gathering a tiny stockpile of tests was a vacation to Europe that she and her friends were arranging for January, according to Decker, 45, a genetic genealogist in Columbus, Ohio. In order for her to be able to request that everyone participate in testing without requiring each individual to spend money on testing, she developed a system. As a result, anytime she came across testing kits for sale, she purchased them.
President Biden stated last week that private insurers would begin reimbursing consumers for at-home tests they purchase over-the-counter in mid-January, effective immediately. However, because of the high initial cost of the tests, as well as the time required to locate them, they are not widely available.
Cynthia D’Angelo discovered that the best holiday present isn’t a 1954 convertible or an NFT, but a test kit after visiting half a dozen different pharmacies in Champaign, Illinois, and coming up empty-handed.
Ms. D’Angelo, an assistant professor at the Institution of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who also happens to be immunocompromised, said that the university has been offering free quick testing to teachers and staff since the summer of 2014. Nevertheless, after making preparations to go to California ahead of Christmas, she decided to hunt for a few fast test kits of her own.
Mr. D’Angelo called Ms. D’Angelo to tell her that she had gone to six other pharmacies, including all of the Walgreens and CVS stores in Champaign, and none of them had them. For example, in the first place I visited, if I’d shown up five minutes sooner I would have grabbed the last one; nevertheless, I actually witnessed someone take it off off the shelf at that location.”
It was a blessing, Ms. D’Angelo added, that she was able to get them and deliver them to me. “I am paying her back,” she said. They will be shared with my relatives in California,” says the author.