COVID testing company CEO warns of rapid test supply issues in coming months

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Thursday, October 21, 2021
CEO warns of rapid COVID test supply issues in coming months
The CEO of a COVID-19 testing company is warning there could be testing supply chain issues in the coming months.

The CEO of a COVID-19 testing company is warning there could be testing supply chain issues in the coming months.

As employees, some not vaccinated, return to work, the demand for coronavirus testing continues to grow. Many employers are requiring testing for anyone who provided a vaccine exemption.

RELATED: At-home rapid COVID-19 tests may not be as accurate as PCR tests

Vault Health CEO Jason Feldman told ABC7 News, "So, the federal government is clearly on the path to a mandate. We don't know exactly which way OSHA will land, but we do believe that employers with more than 100 employees will end up having to test their employees who are not vaccinated at least once a week, and that challenge will be one of the things that will drain the supply chain even further."

Feldman says there will always be a COVID test available. It just might not be the one you want in the moment.

VIDEO: COVID testing demand 'overwhelming' San Francisco community test sites

As the demand for COVID testing has more than tripled across San Francisco in the past month, community testing clinics are getting overwhelmed.

"PCR tests are largely available at an almost unlimited quantity and the reason for that is they happen in a lab, and throughout the pandemic labs in America built an enormous capacity to be able to produce a result in pretty quick time, usually overnight," said Feldman.

Rapid antigen tests like the ones you can buy in pharmacies will be more difficult to find in the coming months.

RELATED: Volunteers needed to prepare COVID-19 testing kits for Bay Area schools

"The challenge of course is that as soon as your kid gets the sniffles or you have to go on a business trip, or in some case employers are asking you to take a test before you come to the office, those tests that are locally available are now getting bought up and they're disappearing off of shelves faster than ever," said Feldman.

A spokesperson for Abbott, the makers of BinaxNow, a rapid antigen test for sale at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, says they are seeing unprecedented demand.

In an emailed statement, the spokesperson tells ABC7 News they are scaling back up manufacturing of BinaxNOW test kits since Delta became the dominant strain and new CDC guidance calls for a re-prioritization of testing.

"By the end of October, we'll be producing more than 50 million tests per month. To get there, we've hired additional employees and have turned on parts of our self-established manufacturing network in the U.S.," the statement said.

VIDEO: ABC7 team tries out at-home COVID-19 antigen tests

Abbott Labs came out with an at-home COVID test in 2020, but now with the Delta variant surging across the country, it's become a popular item.

Pharmacies are also taking steps to address rising demand. CVS confirms with ABC7 News they've introduced COVID-19 test purchase limits of six on and four at CVS Pharmacy.

"If you are in a big city like San Francisco or New York, there is a really good chance that finding a rapid test on the shelf in the coming months, especially during the holiday season, will be almost impossible," said Feldman.

Feldman says Vault Health isn't immune to the potential shortage of rapid tests, but says with the right planning they might not be needed. He says Vault Health's PCR tests have a turn-around of 18-24 hours.