Abbott and Walgreens Launch Pilot Program To Increase Access to Over-the-Counter Rapid COVID-19 Tests for EBT Cardholders in Philadelphia

Originally published at Abbott ranked No. 4 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


Abbott and Walgreens announced today a pilot program to increase access to rapid testing for Pennsylvania Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders in the city of Philadelphia.

Beginning today, each Philadelphia resident with a Pennsylvania EBT* ACCESS card will be able to receive Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Tests weekly at no cost. Customers will be able to visit the Walgreens pharmacy counter at 16 Walgreens locations within Philadelphia’s city limits to receive their tests. The program will span through the July 4 holiday, a time when families, friends and communities gather in large settings.

Each EBT cardholder can receive two, two-count test packs per family member per week, up to five people per household. This means that an EBT cardholder with a spouse and three dependents can receive ten packs (20 tests in total) per week so that each family member can test themselves twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. This meets serial testing requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) testing established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This pilot program is designed to increase understanding of how to make testing more accessible to underserved and vulnerable communities. By addressing health disparities and expanding access to testing, we can have a greater impact on tamping down community outbreaks of COVID-19.

“We have made enormous strides with COVID-19 testing over the past year and today rapid self-testing is broadly available,” said Andrea Wainer, executive vice president, Rapid and Molecular Diagnostics, Abbott. “Through this pilot, we hope to take learnings and share them with governments and health authorities to ensure that more people have access to rapid testing so we can return to the daily interactions we’ve missed.”

“Walgreens remains diligent in advocating for increased access to COVID-19 testing. We continue to listen to the needs of our communities and this tailored pilot program aims to increase access for our customers and patients in the fight against COVID-19,” said Mike Umbleby, divisional vice president, clinical performance at Walgreens. “We want people to have peace of mind and comfort as they make decisions on how to resume activities while we make our way through the pandemic. We’re proud to test this pilot in the city of Philadelphia, as well as continuing to offer a suite of services like free drive-thru testing at 6,000 locations and expanded OTC testing options for people who are asymptomatic and unable to make an appointment or need a quick result from home.”

Abbott and Walgreens will analyze the logistical and operational components involved with the 30-day pilot. Upon completion, the two companies will share learnings with local, state and federal government officials, as well as with interested non-governmental and community organizations with an interest in increasing access to testing for the underserved. The U.S. government is not involved in this program and public funds are not being used to subsidize the cost of the tests. Additionally, EBT cards will only serve as a visual verification of eligibility – no personal information will be recorded.


About BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Antigen Self Test

Using the BinaxNOW Self Test is simple. People only need to perform a minimally invasive nasal swab (not the deep nasopharyngeal swab) and all materials required to perform the test (swab, test card, and reagent solution) come in the box. With results in just 15 minutes, the BinaxNOW Self Test lets people who test positive immediately isolate so that they do not infect others, rather than waiting days for results from a lab or send-away at-home tests.

The test can be used on children as young as two years old when samples are collected by an adult and for all people aged 15 years or older. The test comes in a two-count pack to meet serial (frequent) testing requirements. Since August 2020, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid test has been used in K-12 schools, nursing homes, historically Black colleges and universities, workplaces and underserved communities, where they remain in use today and serve as a powerful tool to help prevent the virus from spreading.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2. This test is authorized for home use with self-collected observed direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals aged 15 years or older or adult collected nasal swab samples from individuals aged two years or older with or without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests.

Individuals who test negative and continue to experience COVID-like symptoms should seek follow-up care from their healthcare provider. Individuals who test positive should take precautions, isolate and seek follow-up care from their healthcare provider. BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is only for use under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.