For parents with children heading back to the classroom this fall, be sure to add at-home COVID-19 tests to your school supply lists.

“There are so many ways to get over-the-counter COVID tests right now,” says Nate Reilly, Walgreens senior category manager for diabetes and health testing. He describes just a few easy ways to get a test from Walgreens:
  At-home COVID tests continue to be a key tool in the global pandemic fight, and Reilly tackles some of the latest questions that have come up about tests including how to get them at no cost, expiration dates and if they work on new virus variants.

Which at-home COVID-19 tests are available to purchase at Walgreens?

 
Walgreens has carried a variety of brands of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests since they first became available last year. The tests you’ll see most often on shelves now are Abbott's BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Self Test (2 tests for $23.99) and ACON Labs’ Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test (1 test for $9.99).

If you’re not sure which test to get—whether it’s a test to take at home, or a PCR or Rapid NAAT test at a Walgreens store—ask your local Walgreens pharmacist. They have been trained on all the testing options.

“We are here to help our customers navigate what options are best for them and their families,” says Justin Coyle, PharmD, senior director of pharmacy and retail development operations.

Reilly also recommends checking out the “Which COVID-19 test is right for you” interactive tool on Walgreens.com. This tool can help you decide what test best fits your needs, whether you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or just want peace of mind before a large gathering.

Can I get at-home COVID tests for free?

The short answer is, yes! Earlier this year, the Administration required insurance companies and health plans to cover the cost of up to eight over-the-counter, at-home COVID tests per individual per month. Reilly says you can go to Walgreens.com/ordertest to order your tests for pickup. Or, you can bring your insurance information to your local pharmacist for assistance.

Reilly notes that if you order eight tests, you’ll typically receive four boxes of tests—not eight boxes—because the majority of tests sold at Walgreens come with two test kits inside.

Are the expiration dates accurate on at-home COVID-19 tests? How can I be sure?

Earlier this summer, the Food and Drug Administration extended the expiration dates of some at-home COVID tests. This came after test manufacturers provided data to the FDA that proved the tests were lasting longer than previously thought. As a result, some manufacturers started placing new expiration stickers over old expiration dates.

“Walgreens has not stickered over any expiration dates,” Reilly says. “We don’t want to confuse our customers.”

So when you get an at-home COVID test at Walgreens, the expiration date on the box is what it is.

Can at-home COVID tests detect new variants, like BA.5?

Virus mutation is normal, so that's why it seems like there’s a new COVID variant in the headlines every day. The Omicron subvariant BA.5 was to blame for the spike in COVID cases during the summer. So, can over-the-counter tests keep up with this ever-evolving virus?

“Honestly, we continue to ask that same question,” Reilly says candidly. “The good news is that Walgreens is in constant contact with test manufacturers, making sure their products work on the latest variants out there.”

Can at-home COVID tests be used to determine if I receive treatment?

Yes. Since at-home COVID tests provide rapid results, Coyle says this helps reduce the time in starting treatment.

“This is really important for those with high-risk health conditions since the sooner treatment begins, the better the outcomes,” Coyle says.

Walgreens pharmacies stock oral antivirals and can help you get in contact with your prescriber or connect you with one of our clinic partners to obtain a prescription.

Walgreens offers a range of test types to fit your needs. Visit Walgreens.com/COVIDtesting for the latest testing information.