Supply low, demand high at pharmacies for at-home COVID testing kits

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At-home rapid COVID tests are flying off pharmacy shelves as people test themselves before and after visiting family for the holidays. Assemblyman John McDonald, the longtime pharmacist with Marra’s in Cohoes, says the supply of at-home COVID test kits has been spotty the past couple of months.

People are so eager to purchase them, he has limited two per customer. “I check wholesalers’ supply a couple times a day. I saw a bunch, grabbed 24 real quick,” McDonald said. “That was the end of it. Within a day, they went.”

Though pharmacies are having a tough time keeping the kits in stock, the federal government is buying half a billion kits and expecting its first delivery to come in the new year. New York State is helping out, too. “Albany County was able to get, from the state, a large amount. They have distributed to each community,” McDonald explained. “We will refer people looking for those at-home kits to go to whatever locations the city has designated the kits to go to.”

McDonald hopes people who buy kits or receive them from the government will take appropriate action based on the results. “The intention for giving out these kits is to make sure that, if you’re going to visit someone, you can do it safely, but if you’re positive, to do the quarantine. That’s going to be scout’s honor on that,” he said.

While McDonald is glad people are being responsible and wanting to test themselves, he has some concerns about the timing of rapid tests. Testing with an at-home kit immediately after potential exposure to the virus will not yield the most accurate result. “You need five days for incubation, and that will eventually give you the appropriate result whether it’s negative or positive,” he said.

At-home rapid tests come with a set of instructions that should be closely followed for accuracy.

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