Local Drugstores Deal With COVID Rapid Test Shortage

IPSWICH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio)—With coronavirus cases still on the rise in Massachusetts and more people going back to school and the office, many pharmacies and drugstores are struggling to keep up with demand for COVID-19 rapid tests. CVS is now limiting the number of rapid test kits customers can buy to four kits in store and six online. And for locally-run drugstores, in many cases the shortage is more severe.

At Conley's Drugstore in Ipswich, Pharmacist Alex Doyle says they get around a dozen calls a day asking about rapid tests, but the supply is very limited.

"As we try to source these from suppliers, they continue to be out of stock, taking pre-orders with no expected delivery date," Doyle said.

And people who try to circumvent the problem by ordering test kits online are running into problems as well. Doyle says vendors simply have more orders than they can fulfil.

"We have one vendor that we placed a good size order from three weeks ago," Doyle said. "They're still waiting on their order from the manufacturer."

As the Delta COVID variant drives the surge in cases, it's also driving the demand for tests. Doyle says because the Delta wave came on so fast, "it caught a lot of suppliers off guard. No one had the supplies and it takes time to ramp up production."

Drugstores have seen shortage after shortage over the course of the pandemic. When asked by WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe to compare this latest issue to the lockdown-era toilet paper frenzy, Doyle said he thinks the test shortage is worse.

"Toilet paper there's alternatives for. We're trying to keep ahead of COVID and one of the tools for that is vaccinations and testing. If we don't have readily available tests for people, it's a public health problem."

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports:

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