It’s officially our third year of the pandemic, omicron cases are on the rise and now it’s nearly impossible to get a COVID-19 test.
If you’ve been trying to stock up on rapid tests in the past two weeks, you probably know firsthand: stocks of home antigen tests (also called rapid tests) at drugstores are running out across the country; clinics are overwhelmed by demand, face record wait times and regularly run out of test kits; even rapid test online orders have become difficult to track down (and, for many, ultimately unaffordable). the shortage COVID-19 testing is so bad in some states Indiana announced earlier this week it would start restrict eligibility for who can do rapid antigenic tests.
The reasons for the shortage are many and some are surprisingly simple. « Swabs are a huge bottleneck, » said Lydia DePillis of ProPublica in a new interview with Slate. “This production should have happened from the start, and instead there was a hope and a prayer that the vaccines would make all of this unnecessary. We now know how it went. A slow regulatory approval process for companies performing rapid tests is also contributing to the shortage in the United States, for example ProPublica, which is facing growing demand for rapid tests as schools and offices attempt to safely reopen.
In response to the frustrating shortage, the White House announced on December 21 that it would purchase 500 million test kits and distribute them free to Americans – a plan expected to take effect in mid-January, according to a new report from the Washington post published this week.
Getting one of the free COVID-19 tests will (hopefully) be a lot easier than visiting all CVS and Walgreens within a 50 mile radius in the hopes of finding quick tests in stock. The Biden administration’s plan is to simply request a quick test from a website and have it sent to you for free, per the To post. To achieve this, the U.S. Postal Service is reportedly negotiating with its major unions to keep the extra workforce a little longer during the holidays, the To post reported.
Getting tested for COVID-19 after being exposed remains an important part of stopping the spread of the virus. But even if you do manage to get your hands on a COVID-19 test, there is some evidence that rapid antigen tests may not be as effective at detecting the omicron variant.
« By following the FDA long-standing rapid test recommendations, if a person is negative with an antigen test but is suspected of having COVID-19, such as symptoms or a high likelihood of infection from exposure, follow-up molecular testing are important in determining a COVID-19 infection, ”according to the most recent testing guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration. “If a person tests positive with an antigen test, they should self-isolate and seek follow-up care from a health care provider to determine next steps. «