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Amazon Joins Major Retailers In Limiting Covid Testing Kit Sales - Report

Amazon reportedly added its name to a growing list of major U.S. retailers now limiting the sale of Covid testing kits amid a surge in Omicron infections.

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report joined a growing list of U.S. retailers to limit customer purchases of Covid testing kits, media reports indicated Wednesday, as infections of the newly-identified variant race through the world's biggest economy.

CNBC reported the testing kit limit, which it pegged at 10 units per shopper, although there appeared to be no visual warnings for customers on the Amazon Prime website at last check on Wednesday morning. 

Earlier this week, Walgreens  (WBA) - Get Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc Report limited customers to four of its at-home Covid testing kits, a decision that was quickly followed by its larger rival CVS Health  (CVS) - Get CVS Health Corporation Report, which only two weeks ago forecast a decline of as much as 70% in Covid testing revenues for its current fiscal year from the $3 billion tally it collected in 2021.

Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report set limits for online purchases, as well, to eight kits per order, but left individual stores to use discretion in implementing rules for brick-and-mortar customers. 

Catalina, a shopping data collector based in St. Petersburg, Florida, said Wednesday that sales of home testing kits surged 225% over the week ending on December 18, when compared to the timeframe prior to Omicron's first identification last month, while the broader "home testing category" of items, which includes facemasks, has seen sales rise 370% from the same period last year.

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"To get an idea of the scale of Covid home testing kits, out of nowhere they now make up 84% of the overall category, with face masks and all other home health testing kits each making up 8%," said Catalina's CMO Marta Cyhan. 

"With more people now opting to take COVID tests at home before attending a social function, we anticipate sales in this category will continue to skyrocket in anticipation of gathering with family and friends for Christmas and New Year's Eve," she added.  

Amazon shares were marked 0.72% lower in early Wednesday trading to change hands at $3,383.69 each, while CVS shares slipped 0.5% to $100.32 each and Walgreens gained 1.1% to trade at $50.53 each.

President Joe Biden unveiled plans yesterday to buy 500 million at-home rapid Covid testing kits, which will be made freely available next month, as he laid out his administration's plans to tackle the latest wave of the pandemic, which is nearing its two-year anniversary in the United States.

“I know you’re tired, really, and I know you’re frustrated,” Biden said during a televised address Tuesday. "“We all want this to be over, but we’re still in it.”

Omicron, which was only identified late last month, now accounts for more than 73% of U.S. infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday, and is thought to be responsible for at least one fatality in Texas.