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At home COVID test kits in high demand

Posted at 9:40 AM, Sep 23, 2021

(WXYZ) — For months, pharmacies have sold at-home COVID-19 test kits that provide results within minutes. Due to demand, some pharmacies like CVS are limiting how many test kits customers can buy at a time.

“From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing,” said President Joe Biden during his speech to the nation on September 9.

During the address, the President promised more access to COVID-19 testing and said he would use his power to meet demand.

“I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home,” Biden said.

Those at-home test kits have been a hot commodity, selling out online at many retailers. In one pharmacy we visited, the shelves were bare. In another, the shelves were restocked with a handful of kits available.

Theressa Nelson of Southfield says she and her daughter test regularly for COVID-19 and has interest in an at-home kit.

“Absolutely," Nelson said. "It's more convenient than coming out and having to wait in line.”

Due to high demand, CVS is limiting how many each customer can buy at a time. No more than 6 for online orders, and no more than 4 for in-person orders.

However, the costs carry another concern for access to tests. The cheapest at CVS is $24 for a pack of 2, with others closer to $40. During his speech, the President announced that Amazon, Kroger, and Walmart will temporarily reduce prices by 35%.

“Each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months,” Biden said.

“How useful they are, it’s kind of up in the air,” said Dr. Matthew Sims with Beaumont Health. "They can confirm COVID, but they can't really prove that you don’t have it”

Dr. Sims warns these at-home antigen tests are not as effective as lab tests because they aren't as sensitive, meaning there's potential for false-negative results for those who are asymptomatic.

“If you're feeling sick and coughing and all of that and want to confirm it’s COVID, they probably work fairly well," Dr. Sims said. "They’re still not perfect.”

While not perfect, Dr. Sims says they’re another tool to help fight the pandemic. Another tool, in high demand.

Pharmacies like CVS also offer in-person testing, and Beaumont now offers PCR testing at their urgent cares with same-day results.