Starting this week, some of the country’s largest pharmacy chains will have both more supply and more choices of over-the-counter, no-prescription-needed COVID-19 tests.
Shipments of BinaxNOW – a rapid antigen test that can detect both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 – were sent to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Walmart stores across the country starting Monday.
The test will be sold for $23.99 at most locations, both online and in-stores. As of Wednesday, Walmart is selling the test kits online for a discounted price of $19.88.
Abbott Laboratories, the company producing the tests, received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in late March to sell the self-tests for over-the-counter use. The tests that will soon be available at pharmacy shelves are “identical to the professional-use test” available since August 2020, the company said in a statement.
BinaxNOW uses a minimally-invasive nose swab to detect COVID-19, and provide results within 15 minutes. This particular test was designed specifically for “surveillance and frequent use,” and comes with two swabs in order to meet the FDA’s serial testing guidelines, which requires an individual to administer two separate tests with 36 hours in between.
The test, which is approved for use in children as young as two years old using a sample from an adult and for all individuals aged 15 and older, will be available both online and in-stores this week at Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS – but Abbott hopes to ship out more tests to other companies “in the next two weeks.”
“The BinaxNOW Self Test opens the door for Americans to buy an accurate and affordable test on their own terms, when and where they need it,” Andrea F. Wainer, executive vice president of Abbott’s rapid and molecular diagnostics business, wrote in a statement. “Together with vaccines and like-minded partners such as Walgreens, we can help people get back to doing what they love – like spending time with friends and family.”
In addition to receiving the BinaxNOW test kits, CVS Pharmacy on Monday also announced it is selling two other non-prescription COVID-19 tests.
CVS will be the first U.S. retailer to carry Ellume’s $38.99 COVID test kit, which requires users download a free smartphone app in order to receive their results. The test delivers results to the app within 15 minutes, without the need for a second test.
For now, the Ellume tests are only available in select CVS locations across Rhode Island and Massachusetts; the company plans to increase supply both online and in-stores nationwide by the end of May.
The third COVID-19 test available at CVS is the Pixel by Labcorp Home Collection Kit. The Pixel polymerase chain reaction test requires users to ship their test kit to a lab, with results typically available within one to two days of receipt.
Walgreens has offered the same test since late February, selling the kits at varying prices across 6,000 of its stores.
For now, the Pixel kit is available online and in select CVS stores across Alabama, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
“Access to testing continues to be an important part of the nation's pandemic response. Making OTC COVID-19 tests available to our customers helps remove barriers by providing convenient options for testing," said George Coleman, senior vice president of CVS Pharmacy, wrote in a statement.
"CVS Health has been a leader in providing accessible testing in communities nationwide, and we continue to bring new solutions to market to ensure that consumers have a variety of COVID-19 testing options available to them,” Coleman added.
While over-the-counter COVID tests are not covered by insurance, those who purchase the Pixel test directly from its website may qualify for a $0 upfront cost if they meet certain requirements, like working in a congregate setting or being asked to take a test by a healthcare professional.
Without those benchmarks, the Pixel test costs $119 on the Labcorp website. Only people 18 years and older are approved to take the test.