Consumers will be able to buy rapid coronavirus tests without a prescription this week at three national chain retailers, an expansion that comes as the nation’s vaccination effort accelerates and states relax distancing requirements and mask mandates.
Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW coronavirus self-test kits will be shipped to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart locations, and also will be sold online. The two-test kit, which last month received Food and Drug Administration emergency-use authorization for serial screening, will cost $23.99, the company said.
Another rapid test made by Australia-based Ellume will be sold at CVS stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for $38.99. It also can be purchased online or at most CVS stores in other states by the end of May.
These retail tests eliminate another barrier for people who want to test themselves without visiting a doctor or a telehealth provider. Both tests deliver results in about 15 minutes and don’t require a lab.
The retail tests give consumers another option to get tested even as several states have converted mass testing sites to mass-vaccination sites. Testing nationwide began decreasing last winter as state and local public health departments steered limited resources to vaccination, said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“I still have worries, and the biggest lingering one is the potential cost of these tests,” said Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health associate professor and epidemiologist.
Although the retail cost of the tests are on par with an insurance copayments, Nuzzo said that’s too much for some disadvantaged consumers and communities.
“This increases options for some, not all. So we have to keep working to make these tests more widely available,” she said.
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