- Kroger will offer COVID-19 antibody tests at all of its more than 2,200 pharmacies and 220 healthcare clinics by the end of November, the company announced Wednesday.
- The tests, which can indicate whether an individual has been previously infected with COVID-19, cost $25 and typically provide results within 15 minutes. Testing is currently available at Ralph’s pharmacies in California and at Kroger pharmacies in Michigan.
- Kroger along with its healthcare division, Kroger Health, has become a testing resource for shoppers and employees, with COVID-19 home tests available along with testing at all of the company’s 220 in-store clinics.
As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into the fall and winter months and with the holidays approaching, many individuals who believe they’ve been previously infected by the virus are seeking out antibody tests. Health officials note that the presence of antibodies indicate, but don’t necessarily prove, a person’s immunity to the virus. It’s also unclear at this point how long antibodies are present after an infection.
Kroger noted in its announcement that antibody testing has been in short supply in the U.S., citing an American Society for Microbiology report noting 73% of testing labs have experienced a shortage of commercial testing kits for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Kroger's antibody tests, which are supplied by Sumner, Washington-based Whitmire Medical and configured like a blood sugar test, are conducted by healthcare professionals using a finger-prick blood sample. The Food and Drug Administration first authorized the test in August and approved broader use in September.
"Making rapid antibody testing available across our family of pharmacies will not only provide an affordable and convenient testing solution for individuals who want to understand if they have previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, but also help clinicians understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and potential public health strategies for fighting the disease," Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a statement.
With its various testing resources available to employees and shoppers, Kroger is further establishing itself as both a grocer and healthcare provider. Kroger Health encompasses the company’s pharmacies and clinics in 35 states, and staffs more than 22,000 healthcare professionals. CEO Rodney McMullen has noted in the past that Kroger considers “food as medicine” to be a prominent trend the company will pursue in the coming years.