COVID-19 self-test kits ‘moving fast’ due to ‘elevated’ Singapore demand

FairPrice Unity’s stock of COVID-19 self-test kits at Tampines One. Photos: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
FairPrice Unity’s stock of COVID-19 self-test kits at Tampines One. Photos: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits are flying off the shelves of pharmacies as more Singaporeans are getting tested.

Pharmacies are trying their best to supply those testing themselves for the coronavirus at home after the nation set new daily infection records this month, including yesterday.

Sales for cheaper brands are thriving with some out of stock, while others remain available.

“Demand for [antigen rapid test] kits has been elevated in the past month as the number of Covid cases climb. We expect additional stocks to arrive over the next few days,” NTUC FairPrice, who owns the Unity pharmacies, told Coconuts today.

It added that it was working to obtain more from suppliers.

Though there are seven test kits that are Health Sciences Authority-approved and sold at major pharmacies islandwide, only two were seen at stores checked by Coconuts this morning.

Upon visits on Tuesday and Wednesday, Watsons, Guardian and Unity outlets around Tampines, Bukit Batok and HarbourFront all had many SD Biosensor’s Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Home Test in stock, including packed boxes behind the cashiers. They were priced at S$12.90 per kit.

Vivo City’s Unity said this morning that its supply was “moving fast” and advised buyers to check with individual stores as its system is slow to update. Its online store has since been restocked after being sold out yesterday.

The most common kits that are selling like hotcakes are those that give the most bang for the buck. The Abbott’s PanBio COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is priced a dollar cheaper and SD Biosensor’s five kits in one (S$46) can save close to S$20. They were only seen at Watsons and Unity stores.

A sales rep at Tampines One’s Unity, who was in the midst of restocking boxes of kits this morning, said that the Abbott’s PanBio is the most commonly bought as it is the cheapest and restocks come in at staggered dates to prevent people from “panic buying.”

A cashier at the Guardian at Tampines Mall said stocks for brands besides SD Biosensor have been out for a couple of weeks and do not have fixed restock dates. Watsons cashiers also said stocks are replenished a couple times a week but are not fixed.

Watsons and Guardian have not responded to emails seeking for comment since yesterday.

After this story was published, Guardian Singapore said demand is five times more since last month but is certain that there will be enough stock though quantities will differ in each store.

“We would like to assure consumers that there are sufficient test kits as Guardian is committed to working closely with our suppliers to ensure a steady stream of supply,” a spokesperson wrote, adding that they are working on restocking Abbott’s PanBio COVID-19 Antigen Self-test and Quidel’s QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test.

After cases shot up to more than a thousand cases daily last month, Singapore urged everyone to test more regularly as part of their “social responsibility,” especially for front line workers and those required to go back to the office.

Free SD Biosensor’s Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Home Test kits were given to all households last month and 20 test centers were set up islandwide.

Singapore yesterday hit an all-time high of 3,486 cases in a day and nine more deaths since the outbreak began. This brings to a total of 109,804 infections and 130 deaths.

Update: This story has been updated with Guardian Singapore’s statement.

Other stories you should check out:
Singapore pastor ‘sad’ woman poisoned by ivermectin at urging of other worshipers
Singapore firm AsiaCiti Trust helps corrupt figures hide stolen wealth: Pandora Papers

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