Employer Demand For Rapid COVID-19 Tests Deepen Shortage In US: Reuters

In recent weeks, an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests from U.S. employers has deepened the shortage of rapid tests and is driving up testing programs costs.

What Happened: The rush to stockpile tests comes after the White House said it plans to mandate weekly testing for unvaccinated staff at businesses with over 100 employees.

Related: FDA Establishes Additional Conditions Of Emergency Use Nod For COVID-19 Tests For Viral Mutations.

Companies including Abbott Laboratories ABT, Quidel Corporation QDEL, and LumiraDX Ltd are scaling up production to meet rising demand. Abbott reopened a plant in Illinois to produce over 50 million Binax Now tests per month by the end of October.

Quidel is building a new plant to boost its rapid test output from around 20 million per month to almost 70 million, but it will not be operational until year-end, Quidel CEO Doug Bryant said.

LumiraDX is planning to almost double its test production by year-end.

But it will take weeks to months to boost the test output, thus making the tests harder to procure in the near term, industry executives told Reuters.

"Employer demand has gone crazy," added Bryant. "We won't be able to meet all the requests that we're having."

Related: Quidel To Bring OTC COVID-19 Antigen Test To CVS Pharmacy.

Why It Matters: In Missouri, limited supplies of Abbott's Binax Now rapid test, which typically sells to states for around $5 each, have forced it to consider other, more expensive options, a spokesperson for the states' public health agency said.

Related Link: Abbott Destroyed Several COVID Test Cards, Now Faces Diminished Capacity: NYT.

South Carolina, for example, is paying $130 each for some of its rapid tests, a state spokesperson said.

Related: See Why CVS Is Limiting Purchase Of OTC COVID-19 Tests.

Abbott and Quidel said they do not plan to raise test prices for customers. However, retailers and test providers often purchase tests and resell them at significant markups.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc WBA and CVS Health Corp CVS sell Abbott's Binax Now rapid tests - which Abbott lists for around $5 - for $12 per test at pharmacies.

Walmart Inc WMT, Kroger Co KR, and Amazon.com Inc AMZN charge nearly $8/test even after they slashed prices temporarily to cost.

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: GovernmentNewsHealth CareGeneralCOVID-19 CoronavirusDiagnostics
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!