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Walmart, Kroger raise at-home Covid test prices after White House agreement expires

The companies agreed in September to sell the test kits "at cost" for three months.

Walmart and Kroger raised the price of Abbott's at-home Covid-19 test kit after an agreement with the White House to sell the tests at a reduced price expired, the companies said Tuesday.

The BinaxNOW kit, one of the first at-home tests to be authorized by the federal government, was listed on Walmart's website Tuesday for $19.88, up from $14 last month. Kroger listed the tests for $23.99.

President Joe Biden announced the agreement with Walmart, Amazon and Kroger in September, saying it was part of his administration’s plan to ramp up testing and “better detect and control” the coronavirus variant that then posed the greatest danger — delta. 

Packages of Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW Covid-19 Antigen Self Test are stacked on a shelf in a store in N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2021.Andrew Kelly / Reuters file

The three-month agreement to sell the tests “at cost” expired last month, just as the new omicron variant began advancing quickly across the U.S. 

A spokeswoman said in an email Tuesday that unlike other retailers, Walmart continued selling the product for $14 through the holidays.

“We have seen significant demand for at home Covid-19 testing kits and are working closely with our suppliers to meet this demand and get the needed product to our customers,” she said, adding that inventory has remained stronger in stores than online.

The kits, which include two tests each, were listed as sold out on the Walmart and Kroger websites Tuesday.

In a statement, Kroger said it had fulfilled its commitment to the Biden administration and had reinstated "retail pricing."

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The tests were not available on its website Tuesday.

The White House could not be reached for comment. Biden said last month that the administration plans to ship as many as 500 million free test kits to people who request them through a website — a plan experts have said will require significant scaling up.

Administration officials have said they expect the first batch to ship sometime this month.