- Companies that manufacture COVID-19 tests are scrambling to produce new tests amid increased demand, Reuters reported.
- Demand for testing fell earlier this year when cases declined with the introduction of the vaccines, but increased again with the Delta variant.
- A manufacturer in June ordered its employees to destroy test kits and fire employees, The New York Times reported.
Companies that make COVID-19 test kits are striving to increase production as demand for tests increases as students across the United States return to schools.
Abbott Laboratories, Becton Dickinson and Co. and Quidel Corp. had scaled back operations to produce COVID-19 tests in recent months as demand for the kits declined, according to a Reuters report.
In June and July, Abbott ordered workers at a factory in Maine to take apart and throw away parts of the test kits they had created due to a decrease in demand for tests in the United States, reported the New York Times on August 20. The drop in demand came as vaccines rolled out and coronavirus cases declined dramatically in the United States.
Then the company fired the workers hired to make the test kits, according to the report.
“The numbers are down,” an Abbot site manager told the 2,000 workers the company laid off at an Illinois manufacturing plant, according to the Times report. “It’s all about the money.”
But demand for rapid antigen testing has risen again amid the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, which has fueled a new wave of cases in the United States as companies recall workers to offices and students and staff are returning to schools. and college campuses for the start of the new academic year.
“We are hiring staff and activating parts of our manufacturing network that were sluggish or slowed down when forecasts changed and demand plunged,” an Abbott spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.
A spokesperson for Becton Dickinson told Reuters the supply is currently limited.
“With the increase in the number of cases of the Delta variant (…) there is currently some tension in the supply as manufacturers get back to work,” said the spokesperson at the point of sale.
CVS announced on Friday that it would limit the number of rapid tests individuals can buy in its stores at one time. Customers were previously allowed to purchase an unlimited number of tests, but are now limited to purchasing six rapid test kits at a time, as Insider previously reported.
As Insider noted, rapid home tests have become a popular way to test for the disease in people looking for rapid results.
“Abbott has continuously manufactured tests, and we have ramped up manufacturing because we saw demand increase when Delta became the dominant strain and new CDC guidelines called for a re-prioritization of testing,” said a door. – Abbott’s speech to Insider.
Demand for COVID-19 tests has grown from 250,000 tests per day in early July to about 1.5 million tests per day in mid-August, an increase of nearly 600%, according to federal data reported by Reuters.
As the outlet noted, the demand for testing is likely to increase further as more state governments and private employers issue vaccination warrants that require unvaccinated employees to undergo. regular screening tests for the disease. President Joe Biden announced in July that all federal employees must be vaccinated against the disease or undergo regular testing.
Companies like Walmart and major airlines like United and Frontier have announced various vaccination warrants. Terms of reference vary, with some allowing employees to opt out if they agree to undergo regular testing.
Demand is also likely to increase as school systems and campuses roll out surveillance testing programs to prevent outbreaks, industry officials and health officials from the Reuters told Reuters. State.