Why It's So Hard To Get A COVID-19 Test Right Now

Former president Donald Trump's administration faced ample criticism for how it handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and now President Joe Biden's administration is facing similar critiques. This all stems from the new COVID-19 mutation, the omicron variant, which was first found in approximately 15 U.S. states in early December, per Reuters, but which has since spread across the country. The large uptick in positive COVID-19 cases has led to canceled flights and canceled events as more travel companies and general event holders — including schools, venues, and business — realize this variant's severity (via The New York Times).

The omicron strain of the novel coronavirus emerged at a time when everyone is being urged to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, which they can expect to help against the variant. This strain is proving to be potentially more infectious than previous variants, and open travel hasn't helped this spread in the slightest (via the CDC). In fact, omicron is so infectious that even Joe Biden had a COVID-19 exposure since this variant began spreading in late November.

Now, as the pandemic enters a new phase, COVID-19 tests are hard to come by, but it may not be for the reason you think.

COVID-19 tests are in short supply due to travel and mutations

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. In fact, it's simply taking on new forms. Now, many find themselves comfortable with pandemic living situations and continue to go out and/or travel, but this only spreads new strains of the novel coronavirus further. All of this is occurring at a time when COVID-19 tests are very hard to come by. According to The Washington Post, this shortage comes from two main sources: omicron's spread and the holiday season.

Many are getting tested before and after their holiday travels, so supplies are becoming incredibly limited. Moreover, the omicron variant, which quickly became known online as incredibly infectious and dangerous, has many worried, so they're seeking tests more often as well. These factors led to the current shortage we're facing today.

"I don't think anybody anticipated that this was going to be as rapidly spreading as it did," President Joe Biden recently said of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "We've obviously got to do better. I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn't help us today and tomorrow."

According to both Biden and Fauci, 500 million at-home tests will become available in January, but many continue to worry that the shortage of tests will prove fatal in the lead-up to this next wave of tests (via STAT). Then there's the cost of tests at present. Ultimately, the pandemic is fully displaying that it's not going anywhere, and as Fauci said, we've all got to do better.