US faces pressure to keep up with heightened COVID-19 test demand 

The nation's COVID-19 test supply is facing "enormous" new pressure to keep up with demands as the omicron variant causes a spike in cases, The New York Times reported Dec. 17.

Over the weekend, testing wait times across the country extended for hours, with appointments quickly filling up. New York, Illinois and Massachusetts are currently administering the highest number of daily tests per 100,000 people, according to data last updated Dec. 20 from Johns Hopkins University. 

As testing appointments fill up, some pharmacies are instructing people to seek over-the-counter tests. The Times reported experts expect a jump in the demand for these types of tests, but online and brick-and-mortar retailers are having trouble keeping them in stock. 

As of Dec. 20, BinaxNow tests are unavailable on, and Hanh Ho, a Houston-based pharmacist at Walgreens, told the Times that shipments of at-home tests arrive every Wednesday and sell out the same day. 

Mara Aspinall, a biomedical diagnostics expert at Arizona State University keeping track of testing capacity, told the Times she forecasts in January that the U.S. will produce a total of 613 million coronavirus tests, including 243 million rapid at-home diagnostic tests.

"If omicron continues to spread as fast as it appears, we'll be very challenged on any reasonable number of tests, particularly prophylactic testing before gathering," Ms. Aspinall said. "And that is a huge concern."

HHS forecasted that the U.S. may need to administer 3 million to 5 million daily tests by late January, which is more than double the current daily 1.6 million tests.

White House officials said Dec. 17 they are working to expand production of at-home tests.


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