CVS Just Banned Customers From Hoarding This Popular Product
The company has placed purchasing limits on a COVID-related item.
It's impossible to forget the earlier days of the pandemic, when people were hoarding essential items like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes, leaving store shelves empty for others and causing panic from coast to coast. As a result, many businesses began putting purchasing limits on the most coveted products in their stores. But over time, once lockdowns lifted and manufacturers were able to meet customer demand, Americans stopped stockpiling items and stores lifted their restrictions—that is, until now. CVS just instituted new purchasing limits on one COVID-related product that a spokesperson said is the "top-selling item" at stores nationwide. Read on to find out what CVS is banning customers from buying up.
CVS is placing a purchasing limit on at-home COVID tests.
CVS Health Corp. has stopped allowing customers to buy an unlimited amount of at-home COVID tests, Bloomberg reports. The new purchasing limits apply to both Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW test and a test from the startup Ellume, which are the only rapid, over-the-counter (OTC) COVID tests CVS sells. Customers are now only allowed to purchase four of each of these tests in stores and six of each online.
This restriction was made "in order to serve our customers' OTC testing needs, and due to high demand," a CVS spokesperson told Bloomberg in an email. The company also states on its online purchasing page for at-home COVID test kits that deliveries may be delayed due to high demand.
"COVID-19 home test kits are the top-selling item in our stores," Tara Burke, a CVS spokesperson, told Northampton, Massachusetts' Daily Hampshire Gazette. One local pharmacist in the Atlanta area told WGCL that COVID at-home tests are "a hot commodity right now." "If I had several dozen, I'd probably sell those within a one-day period," he said.
Manufacturers of these tests say they're working to ramp up production.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 26 that the demand for rapid, at-home tests had risen sharply in recent weeks amid the Delta variant surge, making them harder to find in stores and online. But manufacturers are working to meet the sudden increase in demand.
A spokesperson for Ellume told Bloomberg that it is scaling up production, while Abbott admitted to CNN in an email on Thursday that there will be "some supply constraints" in the coming weeks while the company ramps up production. "We're seeing unprecedented demand as case rates rise—and we've been scaling up manufacturing since Delta became the dominant strain and new CDC guidance called for a re-prioritization of testing," Abbott spokesperson John Koval wrote to CNN. "Today, there are tens of millions of BinaxNOW tests in various settings and supply chains. We're working with our customers to ensure tests get to where they're most needed and we're ramping back up, as we did last year."
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CVS hasn't put a purchasing limit on at-home PCR tests, however.
While CVS put purchasing limits on rapid tests, there is no similar restriction on the sole at-home PCR test sold at CVS: the Pixel PCR Test from Labcorp. This kit requires customers to collect their own sample at home and then ship it to Labcorp, which takes a few days to process the results. The longer wait time and extra leg work could make it less of an attractive choice for customers, but the biggest downside is that it's also significantly more expensive. The BinaxNOW and Ellume rapid at-home tests are $24 and $39 respectively, while the Pixel PCR test will cost you $125.
Despite those factors, Labcorp says it has also seen demand spike recently. "We continue to see increases in demand for COVID-19 PCR testing due to Delta and as the school year begins," Christopher Allman-Bradshaw, a company spokesperson, told CNN in an email on Friday. "We have seen an increase in testing as caseloads rise."
There's recently been a surge in lab COVID testing, too.
But it's not just that there are more people looking to test themselves at home—labs have also seen more patients come in looking to get swabbed. A spokesperson for Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest clinical labs in the U.S., told CNN that that doesn't mean you'll have to wait days to get your results back.
"While COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing demand and positivity rates have climbed in recent weeks due to the nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases, we are performing and reporting the majority of COVID-19 tests within 1 day," Quest spokesperson Kim Gorode told CNN in an email last week. "We have ample capacity, but are adding molecular test instruments to bolster readiness in select laboratories in the Southeast and Southwest, where demand is comparatively high."
The Wall Street Journal points out that the Delta-related surge isn't the only reason demand for tests is climbing. Other potential factors include "students and staff heading back to classrooms; the implementation of new vaccination or test mandates by some cities, states and employers; and study data suggesting that vaccinated people can transmit the virus—and the corresponding updated federal guidance," the outlet notes.