COVID test kits may be harder to find, thanks to Supreme Court
If you’ve recently attempted to purchase a home COVID-19 test, you may have left the store empty-handed. There was a nationwide home testing shortage that hit almost the same time the Omicron variant began peaking in nearly every state.
Due to the extreme transmissibility of the Omicron variant, hospitals were overwhelmed with admissions and the number of infected people reached an all-time high.
A warrant invalidated. In an attempt to bring overwhelmed intensive care units, staffing shortages and the death toll under control, President Biden had instituted a mandatory vaccine or testing plan for businesses with more than 100 people. However, another blow was dealt to the Biden administration when the US Supreme Court struck down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement. Even though the Supreme Court upheld the mandate in place for healthcare workers, it was a crushing defeat for an administration determined to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
Supply chain challenges ahead. The Biden administration appears to remain committed to pushing for the roughly 35 million unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated.
Since vaccines may no longer be needed, in most cases, companies and organizations rely on regular testing to control the spread of the virus. However, with home testing kits dwindling, desperation is taking over. Emergency rooms are flooded with people seeking tests. By the time home tests hit store shelves, they’re being bought up in droves, reminiscent of the toilet paper rush at the start of the pandemic.
The Supreme Court’s order may have seemed like good news for companies worried about staffing shortages and the personal freedom to go without vaccines; however, this will likely have dire consequences for a personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chain already hampered by COVID.
The Supreme Court’s decision could have a ripple effect on the companies that produce the tests, the shipping lines and trucking companies that deliver those tests to stores, and the store employees who sell the tests to customers. Equipment shortages also play a significant role in the scarcity of home testing.
500 million and more. President Biden recently announced that he plans to provide the public with 500 million at-home COVID tests, which, while sounding like welcome relief to a nation starving for testing options, has its own ramifications.
Test providers recently told CNBC that Biden’s promise of 500 million home tests is delaying their shipments, though the president has insisted that existing orders and agreements will not be affected. The ramping up of test manufacturing to meet Biden’s promise and additional demand from Omicron’s spike has put extreme pressure on companies already struggling with understaffing and a lack of supplies.
In what appears to be some kind of cyclical nightmare, with manufacturing plants and trucking and logistics companies not required to mandate vaccines, they will likely experience increased staff shortages as COVID-19 continues to spread. infect workers.
Negative test required. Now that the mandate for private companies is off the table, employers are likely to demand more testing to try to control the spread of the virus. President Biden has implored private companies to still consider their own mandates for their employees, but it remains to be seen how many companies will choose this path of mitigation.
Negative tests are also required at many educational institutions, airlines, and even restaurants and entertainment venues in some states. All requirements contribute to the testing shortage. However, many strongly believe that if negative testing requirements for certain places and events were removed, the spread of COVID would worsen.
Fight against scarcity. Quick fixes are needed as the continued shortage of home testing seems inevitable. Test makers are trying to ramp up production, despite staffing setbacks and shipping disruptions in response to demand.
New test companies are awaiting FDA approval to bring additional rapid test options to market. With authorizations for new tests, the hitch in the supply chain will hopefully start to ease by the end of the month or even mid-February. One of the nation’s largest home testing providers, Abbott, continues to expand its offering. It aims to provide 70 million BinaxNOW rapid tests in January, an increase from the 50 million provided in the United States in December.
While the Supreme Court’s overturning of the vaccine or test mandate may seem like a victory for some private companies, a domino effect is likely for the supply chain. Those calling for testing will need to closely monitor supply chain updates and plan accordingly.
Patrick Callaway is Managing Director of the Octofund Group.