Above is a photograph of my stash of five at-home COVID-19 tests. After participating a conference in South Dakota in July where a lot of folks were ostentatiously unvaccinated, I used one so that if I tested positive I could quarantine myself to prevent infecting other people. Since I have been fully vaccinated since early March, I hoped that the results would be negative. Fortunately, they were. The cost of my test stockpile is $149.95.
Below is a photo showing a bin of at-home rapid Flowflex COVID-19 tests for sale for about $3.50 apiece at a supermarket in the Netherlands. The test is manufactured by a company headquartered in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for sale here. In the bin below the Flowflex test, you'll see another COVID-19 self-test offered by Roche. You can buy it in the Netherlands for about $5.90 per test. It too is not approved by the FDA.
The answer is simple: From the beginning of the pandemic 20 months ago, hypercautious federal bureaucrats have massively bungled COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Way back in March 2020, I argued that the FDA should get out of the way of rapid at-home COVID-19 testing. Instead, the agency prevented private companies and academic labs from developing and deploying any COVID-19 tests. It especially took its sweet time approving at-home diagnostic tests. The first real at-home COVID-19 wasn't finally approved until mid-December.
Making cheap, fast COVID-19 self-testing widely available could have dramatically reduced cases and deaths and enabled Americans to safely work, shop, travel, and entertain themselves just a few months into the pandemic. Bureaucratic incompetence ensured that this didn't happen.
Demand for the expensive at-home COVID-19 tests approved by the FDA has outstripped in-store supplies as delta variant infections surged. Even at this late date, rolling out cheap rapid self-tests could significantly reduce transmission of the virus. If cheap rapid COVID-19 self-tests are good enough for Europeans, surely they are good enough for Americans.