Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Walgreens limiting purchases of at-home COVID-19 tests due to ‘incredible demand’

Story at a glance

  • Walgreens announced it would limit the number of COVID-19 testing kits customers can purchase in an effort to maintain its inventory and meet demand.
  • The White House is also expected to announce a new push to send free COVID-19 testing kits to any household that wants one.
  • A surge in demand of COVID-19 tests is being fueled by the new highly transmissible omicron variant.

As the omicron variant became the dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S., drugstore Walgreens announced it would be limiting the number of at-home COVID-19 tests customers could buy.

Walgreens is only allowing customers to purchase four at-home COVID-19 testing kits at a time as it experiences a surge in demand for tests, which started after the Thanksgiving holiday and has continued through the month of December.

Emily Hartwig-Mekstan, a Walgreens spokesperson, told CNBC that the limit was implemented “in an effort to help improve inventory while we continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands.”

Pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, which makes the popular at-home COVID-19 testing kit BinaxNOW, is also shipping its test kits out as quickly as the company can produce them, according to CNBC.


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Testing for COVID-19 is critical, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested before joining indoor gatherings with those outside of your household. Many countries including the U.S. have also implemented COVID-19 testing requirements before and after travel.

Walgreens’ announcement comes as President Biden is expected to announce that the federal government will start mailing at-home COVID-19 test kits for free to any U.S. household starting next month. According to NBC News, the White House is preparing to ship as many as 500 million kits and is setting up a website for people to submit their requests. 

The push to make more testing available comes as the omicron variant now makes up 73 percent of all new U.S. cases and the CDC has warned health officials that the new variant could cause a serious wave of new infections. 

The omicron variant appears to be more transmissible than previous COVID-19 strains, with the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying “even if omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.”


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