Right now, at-home COVID tests are worth their weight in gold. Despite concerns about their accuracy, particularly with the Omicron variant, home tests have been nearly impossible to find since the pre-holiday travel rush. Now, as stock slowly trickles back in, some Seamless and Uber Eats users are finding tests ready to be delivered — for a hefty cost.
Vice dug through a series of stores and apps to gauge the current antigen test market, and found some thoroughly marked-up prices. Some stores are attempting to justify their scalping by bundling tests with things like thermometers or medicines, while others are unashamedly doubling the prices just for tests. From Vice:
A deli and liquor store in Manhattan is advertising a two-pack of Binax rapid tests on Seamless for $80 (retail is $24) as one of its “new items” alongside corn dogs and garlic bread. Liquid Assets, a liquor store in Brooklyn, offers 2 iHealth at-home rapid tests for $39.99 when they cost $14 from the supplier. It offers increasingly expensive and inflated packages, charging as much as $124.99 for a “Covid Fighter Pack” which features 2 iHealth tests, a digital thermometer, a 32oz of Gatorade, a box of 124 Kleenex, 1 pack of 16 DayQui capsules, 1 pack of 16 NyQuil capsules, a box of Emergen-C Drink Mix, and 1 bag of 24 Ricolas. All together, however, these items should cost at most $90.
Pet Foods by Village Farm, which appears to be a Seamless-and-Grubhub-only pet store, sells cat food, dog food, and various types of rapid tests. It is charging $49.99 for 2 iHealth rapid tests that cost $14, charges $59.99 for 2 Access Bio tests while they cost $16.75 at Target, $49.99 for a QuickVue test that costs $23.99 at Walgreens, and $29.99 for a FlowFlex test that costs $9.99. Its most popular option, the BinaxNow rapid test, goes for $49.99 at Pet Foods but $23.99 elsewhere.
That scalping isn’t limited to Manhattan. I pulled up both apps down here in Brooklyn, and found the same trends:
With lines for PCR tests reaching record lengths, and the response from the current administration being “Google it,” even tests of questionable accuracy will stay in high demand until this infection wave dies down. These rideshare and delivery apps are helping stores scalp buyers, pricing people out of tests — and out of the safety they can provide.