COVID-19: Test kits are in short supply amid high demand
At the moment, the most-searched item on the Internet in the U.S., according to Google trends, are COVID-19 tests.
The spread of Omicron and new requirements to present a proof of vaccination, have generated a growing shortage of test products that during the first days of the year have become essential items.
Large pharmacy chains, where the tests are normally purchased, are dealing with major shortages, and those needing one have had to go to resale on social media, where the reliability and security of the tests are not guaranteed. However, given the need and urgency, it is all that is available.
"I know COVID testing remains frustrating, but we are making improvements. In the last two weeks, we have stood up federal testing sites all over this country — and we are adding more each day. Google “COVID test near me” to find the nearest site where you can get a test,” President Joe Biden wrote midweek on Twitter. He also announced he would provide 500 million free tests at home in the coming days.
I know COVID testing remains frustrating, but we are making improvements.
In the last two weeks we have stood up federal testing sites all over this country — and we are adding more each day.
Google “COVID test near me” to find the nearest site where you can get a test.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 5, 2022
Despite federal efforts, the lack of testing continues to create chaos and many people prefer to venture elsewhere and avoid waiting in long lines in the cold for access.
According to Forbes magazine, websites like NowInStock, HotStock, and ZooLert, which track reruns of items at different online retail stores, have listed home test kits among their most-searched items.
Also, according to Bloomberg and CBS News, the social media accounts "SupplyNinja" and "Wario64," which help people search for refills of hard-to-find electronics like the Playstation 5, now send updates and alerts on where to find the latest test refills for coronavirus.
It is also reported that the prices for some of the kits went up into the range of $24.50 to $69.99.
In mid-December, major retailers such as CVS, Walgreens, Amazon, and Walmart began limiting sales of these home test kits due to high demand and inventory limitations, as more people were looking to get tested sooner and during the December holidays.
After the trips and end-of-the-year meetings, it is not easy for Americans these days to get tested for COVID. Added to the skyrocketing demand caused by the dramatic increase in infections and requirements, the lack of supply usually leads to increased prices.
While chain stores have imposed a limit on the number of units of these kits that each person can purchase, social media has become the stage to access them more easily and, for now, without encountering major price hikes.
Experts warn about the accuracy of such tests, but also point out that reselling in small quantities and without a large markup, is not illegal.
For its part, the Federal Trade Commission also invited people to buy only kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).