Amazon limits how many Covid tests you can buy amid omicron surge

  • Amazon and vendors on its online marketplace have placed purchase limits on at-home Covid tests amid a surge in demand ahead of the holidays and the fast-spreading omicron variant.
  • There have been widespread reports of long lines at testing sites and bare shelves at pharmacies.
  • On Tuesday, Walgreens and CVS instituted caps on the number of at-home Covid tests shoppers can buy.

Amazon has limited sales of its at-home Covid-19 test kits amid a surge in demand tied to fears around the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise once again in the U.S. as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads and is now considered the dominant Covid strain in the country, representing 73% of sequenced cases. The surge has led to a flurry of demand for tests ahead of the holidays, as many Americans prepare to travel and gather with their families.

There have been widespread reports of long lines at Covid testing sites, while some pharmacies' shelves of at-home Covid tests have become bare. In response to the surge, Walgreens and CVS Health said Tuesday they were limiting how many at-home Covid tests customers can purchase both in-store and online.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the company is experiencing inventory shortages on some Covid tests due to increased demand. The company is working to secure additional Covid test inventory from its selling partners, the spokesperson said.

Amazon has limited the number of purchases of its own at-home PCR test kit to 10 units per shopper.

Meanwhile, tests available from other vendors on its marketplace were also capped. The top-selling at-home Covid test, made by California-based iHealth Labs, was limited to five tests per person.

It's up to third-party sellers and vendors to set their own purchase limits, the Amazon spokesperson said. The spokesperson didn't respond to questions asking when it began experiencing test shortages.

The shortage of tests comes as President Joe Biden said Tuesday the government will purchase 500 million at-home tests that Americans can order online for free. Delivery of the tests will begin next month.

WATCH: Biden administration to distribute 500 million free at-home Covid tests

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