Pharmacies and In-Clinic Testing Set to Remain as Covid-19 Numbers Shift into Post-Pandemic Phase

Pharmacies and In-Clinic Testing Set to Remain as Covid-19 Numbers Shift into Post-Pandemic Phase

VANCOUVER – USA News Group – Slowly emerging from the Omicron wave, many western countries appear to be easing their hyper focus on Covid-19 restrictions, after peak cases were reached in mid-January. In the aftermath, demand for testing appears to have declined, which is causing experts to warn that now is the time to take the opportunity to make sure populations are better prepared for future surges. Unlike the beginning of the declared pandemic, when testing was mostly carried out by state provided centres, much of the focus now is shifting towards point-of-care testing in clinics and pharmacies, with significant help coming from groups such as health and wellness testing providers Goodbody Health Inc. (CSE:GDBY) (OTC:GDBYF), test kit manufacturers Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:QDEL), and important pharmacy chain owners such as CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) in the USA and Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP-A) (OTC:EMLAF) in Canada.

According to Dr. Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “"Part of the ongoing challenge of the pandemic has been the difficulty in ramping up testing as a surge is beginning, and unfortunately, time and time again, our testing efforts have been hampered by too little, too late.”

This has caused concerns already, as multiple reports emerged in 2021 (and also into 2022) of testing kit shortages, as well as healthcare worker shortages due to factors such as layoffs and mass resignations—with nearly 1 in 5 quitting their jobs during the pandemic.

Much of the relief for hospitals regarding Covid-19 testing has come in communities at the pharmacy level, and not just in North America, but also in Europe.

Over in the UK, Goodbody Health Inc. (CSE:GDBY) (OTC:GDBYF) has seen its foray into wellness testing explode, garnering record revenues and leading towards its most recent expansion into Canada through its its first ever Canadian clinic in a busy part of downtown Vancouver.

Goodbody began its in-clinic testing business strategy in the UK by providing over 500 COVID tests per day, remaining strong due to other country entry requirements although the UK restrictions have eased. By the end of 2022 Goodbody Health aims to offer 1,000 points of care for customers as well as an increased range of products and services.

Situated within a 9-storey health-care oriented office building the new Vancouver clinic is positioned directly across from St. Paul’s Hospital. The location is home to numerous doctors, therapists, medical practitioners and other personal service professionals alike, which Goodbody has considered an ideal location to research future opportunities in Canada and roll out the clinic success of the UK.

“I am delighted to have taken Goodbody clinics across the Atlantic to Canada,” said Geremy Thomas, Executive Chairman of Goodbody Health. “I am sure the success Goodbody clinics have had to date in the UK will continue in Canada as well.”

The UK wellness company is now also introducing blood testing through its existing network of clinics, while it continues to contract with more new pharmacies through a local level network of over 155 clinics nationwide, including 15 new pharmacies in the first half of February. Goodbody is now offering over 30 blood and PCR tests for at home or in-clinic testing.

Goodbody’s process includes venous blood draws with an in-clinic phlebotomist, as they’ve also launched their own phlebotomy training academy, training up staff within its existing clinic network to allow them to offer in clinic health and wellness blood tests.

Earlier this year, pharmacy chain giant CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) expressed its concerns for securing at-home tests during the height of omicron, as manufacturers such as Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) and Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:QDEL) were experiencing “unprecedented demand,” according to Abbott spokesman John Koval.

In late 2021, demand was so out pacing supply, that CVS was limiting customers on the number of at-home Covid kits that each person could buy.

“We’re sending them out as fast as we can make them,” said Koval. “This includes running our U.S. manufacturing facilities 24/7, hiring more workers and investing in automation.”

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global home testing kits industry is expected to reach nearly $4.9 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.29%.

However, CVS has since expressed an expectation of the sales boosts it received from Covid-19 to wane—after delivering more than 59 million Covid-19 vaccines, and tens of millions of tests in 2021. Same-store sales, those from stores or digital channels operating for at least 12 months, rose 13% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, when the vaccines were being authorized.

Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:QDEL) has stated a view that runs contrary to CVS’s predictions, stating it expects COVID-19 test demand to continue through Q2, but didn’t offer any 2022 guidance. COVID-19 tests generated roughly $512 million for Quidel in Q4 2021, based on sales of approximately 65 million QuickVue antigen tests. 

Now in 2022, because of the pandemic, there’s now been a shift in US policy on providing free access to tests, vaccines and treatments during public health emergencies—including President Biden’s new initiative called the “Test to Treat” program. Now Americans can test for Covid-19 at a pharmacy and, if positive, receive free oral therapeutics on the spot.

"We actually shipped very little in the fourth quarter to the government contract," said Quidel CEO Doug Bryant. "We have shipped a bit more in the first quarter, and we're still increasing as we go throughout the remainder of this year. We could finish the entirety of the agreement with them by the end of the second quarter, I believe, but it's entirely possible that given things that are out there now that, that could persist into the third quarter as well."

In Canada, the province of Nova Scotia announced a partnership with both Sobeys and Lawtons retail locations, all of which come under parent company Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP-A) (OTC:EMLAF), through pharmacy-based walk-in clinics in New Glasgow and Truro.

The partnership will see the addition of a nurse practitioner to the New Glasgow clinic, and create a new walk-in clinic, staffed by pharmacists and a nurse practitioner.

“This is a test and try model; it’s a pilot project,” said Nova Scotia Health Interim President and CEO Karen Oldfield. “We will evaluate the project to learn about patient experience, the providers' experience, the delivery of care, and more.”

Article Source: https://usanewsgroup.com/2022/01/28/capitalizing-on-uk-healthcare-during-the-great-re-opening-and-beyond/

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