OKALHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A national shortage of COVID-19 rapid tests is affecting Oklahoma, and it could be months until the situation improves.
There are multiple factors that play into the shortage. OU’s chief COVID officer Dr. Dale Bratzler says it may be harder to obtain a rapid test for you or your family.
“If you go to your local pharmacy or Walmart or other stores that often sell these rapid diagnostic tests, you may have difficulty finding them,” he said. “Just literally a month, six weeks ago, they were really easy finding them.”
Dr. Bratzler also says there isn’t a shortage of PCR tests, but a lack of staffing could affect its availability in the future.
“Somebody has to take that sample and process that,” he said. “The nursing shortage has limited the ability to have some of these drive-through facility testing events.”
Patrice Greenawalt with the Oklahoma Hospital Association says the issue is caused not only because of an increase in demand but also because of a lack of supply, pointing out that one of the largest rapid testing manufacturers stopped production earlier this year.
“Abbott Labs shut down manufacturing plants after the first surge of COVID-19 and they shut down two of their factories and then the Delta surge hit,” she said. “They’re in the process of ramping production back up, but it could take a while…I think it will take, probably, a couple of months.”
Michael DeRemer with the State Department of Health says there is competition between other states, pharmacies and hospitals for resources.
“We’re kinda in a competitive market with everyone else needing testing supplies,” he said.
But they’re working with multiple venders to be prepared for the continued increase in test demand.
“We should be able to handle that influx of what that demand should look like, it’s just very difficult to know what that testing demand will look like.”