The home COVID test has been available for months but in recent weeks have been harder to find online and on pharmacy shelves.
Demand for at-home Covid test has risen sharply in recent weeks as the Delta variant surges across the U.S., causing test makers to scramble to keep pace.
Abbott Laboratories said it expects supplies of its at-home test to be limited in the next few weeks as it hires workers and reboots factory lines that were slowed or idled earlier this summer. Availability on Amazon.com of Abbott’s BinaxNOW test and a similar test made by Quidel Corp. has been spotty, and an at-home test made by Ellume USA LLC was out of stock as of Wednesday. The tests, which detect fragments of viral proteins called antigens, can be found with patchy access on store shelves and websites.
An at-home molecular test made by Lucira Health Inc. is out of stock on the company’s website. A company spokesman said Lucira is boosting production.
Abbott, which has shipped tens of millions of at-home tests, scaled back production of its tests in early June and July, when demand was low, and laid off workers in Illinois and Maine.
“While there will be some supply constraints over the coming weeks as we ramp back up—we are putting resources from all over the company to help meet this unprecedented demand,” an Abbott spokeswoman said in a statement. “It’s difficult to scale up on a dime, but we’re doing so again, just as we did last year.”
Ellume is preparing to begin 24-hour production and working on getting a U.S. manufacturing facility up and running, said Juliet Grigg, medical adviser of the Australia-based company. A spokeswoman for Quidel said the company is working closely with retailers to keep its test stocked to meet the elevated demand.
At-home antigen tests, which are available over the counter and can give results in about 15 minutes, first appeared online and on pharmacy shelves in spring 2021. For months, some public-health experts have pushed for wider awareness and use of the tests, calling them underused tools that can help identify infectious cases quickly and thereby help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“It’s a tool that we haven’t had, and I don’t think we’re using it to our full advantage,” said Dr. Darlene Bhavnani, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas, Austin.
Source Live Mint
Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan.