The unlikely place to seek out COVID-19 checks

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If you have tried to buy an at-home COVID-19 check at a nationwide pharmacy chain previously few weeks you have possible struck out. It will not get any simpler anytime quickly, both, as colleges welcome college students again for in-person studying whereas the Omicron variant continues to surge — fueling extra demand for normal testing and additional straining check provides.

But some savvy customers have found that at-home COVID-19 checks can be found from an unlikely supply: Telemedicine firm Ro. At its inception in 2017, underneath the title Roman, the corporate billed itself as a males’s well being care firm offering discreet remedies for situations together with erectile dysfunction and hair loss.

Visit Ro’s web site and you should purchase as much as 12 packs of Intrivo Diagnostics’ On/Go COVID-19 fast antigen self check equipment per transaction. The solely catch is that at $30 for 2 checks, the kits are barely dearer than presently unavailable varieties, like Abbott Labs’ BinaxNow antigen self-test equipment, which when in inventory, retails for $23.99 at CVS Pharmacy. 

A screenshot of Ro’s COVID-19 check equipment web page signifies that the On/Go kits are presently in inventory. 


Driven by Omicron, the speed of COVID-19 instances has swelled throughout the U.S., with optimistic case numbers reaching their peak for the reason that starting of the pandemic. The seven-day common of recent instances has soared to just about 340,000 from 187,000 per week in the past, in accordance with knowledge from TD Securities. 

Consequently, each number of at-home COVID-19 check on CVS Pharmacy’s web site is presently bought out. Abbott’s BinaxNow equipment, Quidel’s QuickVue at-home check equipment, Orasure’s Inteliswab fast check equipment and FlowFlex’s model are all bought out on Walgreens’ web site, too.

A screenshot from CVS Pharmacy’s web site indicating fast at-home COVID-19 checks are bought out on-line.

Product availability tracker Nowinstock.web, which does the digital legwork for customers, additionally signifies that almost each number of at-home COVID-19 check is bought out throughout the expansive on-line retail panorama. 

COVID-19 checks are presently among the many hottest and hardest to safe gadgets, proper alongside online game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s Playstation and Nintendo’s Switch, in accordance with product trackers.

“I’ve been getting requests since the New Year started,” Jonathan Allen, a product monitoring skilled higher identified by his social media deal with “SupplyNinja,” informed CBS MoneyWatch. “Seems that once Christmas was out of the way, people began focusing back on today’s current event — this virus.”

The in style coupon app Honey lists 4 kinds of at-home COVID checks among the many gadgets most watched by customers, together with checks manufactured by Binax, QuickVue, Homeflex and InteliSwab. Other monitoring apps, together with ZooLert and Brickseek, even have began monitoring the supply of check kits.

COVID checks on

Honey screenshot

A screenshot of Ro’s COVID-19 check equipment web page signifies that the On/Go kits are presently in inventory. 


Ro co-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano mentioned the On/Go check equipment was among the many firm’s prime three most in-demand services over the vacation interval. Unlike different well being care firms, together with pharmacies, it’s assured in its capability to maintain the checks in inventory and serve customers by means of peak durations. 

“Our patients kept asking for tests and we partnered with the makers of the On/Go test to provide them,” Reitano mentioned. “They have been investing tremendously in manufacturing capacity even as cases have ebbed and flowed in the potential case where there was a far more contagious variant that spread quickly.”

Growth in distribution facilities

Ro ended the yr with 10 distribution facilities throughout the U.S., up from simply three earlier within the yr, permitting for quick supply of the time-sensitive checks.

“We had pharmacists and pharmacy technicians come in over the holidays and work 12-18 hour days to make sure our patients got their COVID tests on time,” Reitano added. He would not count on to expire of check kits anytime quickly, both. 

While transport particular person check kits is dear for Ro, which pays for expedited transport and solely earnings when it ships checks in bulk, Reitano mentioned the price is value it “to make sure people get it as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, the check kits have helped Ro purchase loads of new prospects who Reitano hopes will look to the corporate to satisfy their well being wants, too. Ro now has a collection of choices that stretch past males’s sexual wellness to incorporate fertility companies, psychological well being care and at-home diagnostic testing for women and men. 

“We started offering the tests to our members and other people signed up,” Reitano mentioned. “Hopefully as we add new products and services they’ll look to us and know they’re getting affordable prices and we’re not looking to take advantage of any moment.”

—Irina Ivanova contributed to this report.

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