The nation’s two largest retailers jacked up the price of an on-demand rapid COVID-19 test after a 100-day agreement with the White House to sell it at cost expired.
Walmart increased the price of BinaxNOW’s antigen self-test kits to $20, while Kroger was selling them for $24 in its nearly 3,000 US grocery stores, as demand continued to outpace supply amid the surge of the Omicron variant soared across the country, according to Fox Business.
The large price jumps followed the lapse of the Biden administration’s Sept. 9 deal with manufacturer Abbott Laboratories to provide them for $14.
“The program ended in mid-December, and while other retailers increased prices in mid-December, Walmart held the $14.00 through the holidays before increasing the price,” a Walmart spokesperson told the outlet.
“That pricing program has now phased out and retail pricing has been reinstated,” Kroger officials reportedly said.
Purchase limits were in place at Walmart due to “significant demand,” and the BinaxNOW test was out of stock on the retail giant’s website Tuesday night.
In the days before Christmas, President Joe Biden outlined a plan to mail Americans 500 million free COVID tests, after claiming that his office was blindsided by an “almost overnight” surge.
With a deal with manufacturers still in the works Tuesday, Biden dodged questions about the progress of the plan as he urged Americans to “Google” where to find at-home tests, which he said will be covered by medical insurers by next week.
The FDA announced Tuesday that COVID-19 antigen tests may be less effective at detecting Omicron than earlier strains of the virus.