CVS, Walgreens begin rolling out over-the-counter COVID tests from Abbott, Ellume and more

Home COVID swab test
Available for under $40, home-based COVID tests from Ellume and Abbott are now being sold over-the-counter. (Getty Images)

CVS Pharmacy has begun stocking its virtual and in-store shelves nationwide with rapid tests for COVID-19—which can be purchased without a prescription and used by anyone regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms—including three FDA-authorized diagnostics and sample collection kits produced by LabCorp, Ellume and Abbott.

Ellume was one of the first companies to receive an agency green light for a fully at-home swab test, which pairs with a smartphone and can deliver a result in less than 20 minutes. Available for $38.99, the Fierce 15 winner’s antigen diagnostic will first be available in CVS’ Massachusetts and Rhode Island stores, before rolling out to most pharmacy locations by the end of next month, according to the company.

Meanwhile, the Pixel home collection kit developed by LabCorp supports PCR-based molecular testing, with samples mailed to a laboratory for processing and results turned around in one to two days. Currently priced at about $120, the kit is also carried by Walgreens and other retailers.

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And after spending months churning out tens of millions of its card-sized coronavirus antigen tests, Abbott said it has begun shipping BinaxNOW screeners nationwide. Both CVS and Walgreens, as well as Walmart, will carry the diagnostic, sold in two-test packs for $23.99.

The test is designed to allow a person to check themselves more than once in a two-day period, for frequent and more accurate screening for COVID-19. It can be used by anyone over the age of 15, and with adult supervision for children as young as two years old, for results in about 15 minutes.

After launching last August, the U.S. government purchased Abbott’s first 150 million BinaxNOW tests for distribution to schools, universities and nursing homes.

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“Even as vaccines become more widely available, COVID-19 testing remains a critical tool to keep our communities safe,” Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement. Walgreens currently offers on-site testing at more than 5,500 of its pharmacies and plans to expand to 6,000 drive-thru sites by May, using Abbott’s ID NOW portable testing machines.

In addition, earlier this month CVS began offering COVID-19 antibody testing for $38 at 1,100 in-house clinics, using fingerstick blood samples to determine previous infections.

"After successfully piloting the antibody test offering at more than 100 MinuteClinic locations earlier this year, and recently launching the service at all of our clinic locations in Massachusetts and Texas, we have seen steady interest in affordable COVID-19 antibody testing," MinuteClinic President Sharon Vitti said in a release. CVS has also provided molecular- and antigen-based diagnostics and has administered 15 million tests in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.