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Local pharmacies sell out of at-home COVID tests, struggle for inventory

“I would say 20-25% of our walk-ins want an at-home COVID test, and we’re having to turn them away because we can’t get them.”

CHAPIN, S.C. — At pharmacies across the country you'll see empty shelves where at-home COVID-19 tests once were. 

At-home test kits have been flying off the shelves at pharmacies across the country as many rush to get tested after the holidays.

Chapin Pharmacy floor manager Karen Quick said their inventory of at-home tests has been sold out since last week. She said the next available shipment from their supplier is January 21. The supplier only allows them to order 16 tests at a time. 

“I would say 20-25% of our walk-ins want an at-home Covid test and we’re having to turn them away because we can’t get them," said Quick. 

Chapin Pharmacy isn't alone either. Several local pharmacies told News 19 they are sold out of at-home test kits and won't get any new shipments for weeks.  

Quick said there's several reasons why customers come in to buy at-home tests. 

“They don't want to have to wait. You know, they don’t want to have to fork over that money," said Quick. 

At-home test kits like Abbot's BinaxNOW or Quidel's Quickvue provide results in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, PCR tests can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for results. 

A box of two at-home tests can cost anywhere from $20 to $25, while a rapid test can range from $50 to $200. 

Without any at-home tests in stock, more people are turning to the drive-through to get tested. 

“We probably had about 25 to 30 [people] yesterday,” said Quick. That number is similar to what the experienced last week before Christmas. Quick said prior to the holidays, there were only five to ten people getting tested every week. 

Pat Gundler and her husband are among those who got tested through the drive-thru on Tuesday. They opted for the rapid test, which costs $75 at Chapin Pharmacy. 

“We have guests coming tomorrow so I needed to know if at all possible whether we should cancel or not," said Gundler. "We just wanna be safe.”

The availability of at-home tests varies per pharmacy as each orders from individual suppliers. To get the latest on shipments and availability, make sure to call your local pharmacy. 

Chapin Pharmacy said they update their inventory on Facebook, or you can call them directly. 

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