At-home COVID-19 tests now available at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart

Abbott's BinaxNOW Self Test
Abbott's BinaxNOW Self Test (Photo provided by Abbott)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several over-the-counter COVID-19 tests become available at stores nationwide this week, part of the ongoing effort to fight the pandemic by making testing more widely available, along with efforts to vaccinate as many adults as possible.

Abbott announced Monday it began shipping its BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Self Test to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart stores across the country. The test, which can be purchased over the counter without a prescription, will then roll out to other major food, drug and mass merchandisers in the weeks ahead.

This test is available without a prescription and will be sold in packs of two for a suggested retail price of $23.99.

“Over the past year, Abbott has developed high-quality rapid testing and invested in U.S. facilities to scale up manufacturing so we could bring affordable testing to Americans on a mass scale,” said Robert Ford, president and chief executive officer, Abbott. “We’re pleased to be working with the country’s leading retailers to provide broad access to this affordable test so that it gets out into the communities that need it most.”

Abbott is manufacturing millions of BinaxNOW Self Tests each month and can further scale capacity based on demand.

CVS Health on Monday also announced it would offer two other COVID-19 tests at its stores: the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test and the Pixel by Labcorp PCR Test Home Collection Kit are now available and also do not require a prescription.

Ellume’s home COVID-19 test sells for $38.99. It was the first rapid, fully at-home test to receive an FDA emergency use authorization back in December. The test delivers results in 15 minutes through a free app downloaded to a smartphone.

The U.S. government previously awarded a $231.8 million contract to Ellume, an Australian company, in order to help increase the availability of testing for the virus.

The Pixel by Labcorp Home Collection Kit, also available on CVS.com and in select stores, but none in Florida or Georgia. It sells for $119.99. The PCR -- or polymerase chain reaction -- test is the same test used by physicians across the U.S. with results typically are available within one to two days.

All three COVID-19 tests can be used by individuals with or without COVID-19 symptoms.

“Let’s not back down on testing, let’s double down on it,” said Thomas Quinn, M.D., professor of medicine and pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “As long as COVID remains unpredictable, there’s an important role for the corner pharmacy and the central lab to tackle this virus in tandem, which gives this country the best chance to detect and screen for COVID-19.”

The CDC advises that “a robust and responsive testing infrastructure is essential to our success in stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2” and provides guidance on the important role both PCR tests and rapid antigen tests play in detecting infections and screening individuals.