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Demand for at-home COVID-19 testing kits could exceed supply ahead of holiday season

Those looking to use at-home COVID tests could face empty shelves this holiday season as demand continues to go up.

SEATTLE — The White House is banking on at-home COVID-19 tests that many families could use to help stay safe over the holidays.

In October, the White House pledged $70 million to speed up the manufacturing of rapid tests while also making them more affordable. Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled a plan seeking to make the kits free for more people.

But the tests can still be hard to come by.

While kits can be purchased at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and on Amazon, manufacturers of these tests warn demand could soon exceed supply.

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"The demand on testing has never been greater. And particularly with the delta outbreak, we thought that we were through it if you remember last spring. And now, as we're coming into the winter months, we're trying to fight against something that just won't go away," said Jason Feldman, the CEO of Vault Health, which offers at-home collection tests. 

Feldman pointed to sales steadily increasing since summer and approaching Thanksgiving. His advice is to plan for COVID-19 testing now as it's possible shelves could be empty as we get closer to Christmas. 

"Increasingly, we're seeing supply go up and down depending on what city you live in and how many people are trying to use those tests to stay in school or get back to work," said Feldman. "But what you can definitely do is order tests online as long as they're approved or authorized by the FDA."

The FDA has listed dozens of approved at-home testing kits.

RELATED: What you should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

There are two types of tests. The at-home collection kit where you overnight the sample to a lab for analysis, receiving results in a few days. There are also at-home rapid tests where results are given within minutes.

"You're trading off speed and accuracy," explained Feldman. "So, I think through the holidays, we're going to see rapid tests very difficult to find, at least consistently. And PCR tests broadly available just about any time you need them."

If you do test positive at home, the Washington State Health Department recommends reporting the result to the COVID-19 hotline. 

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