Remember when vending machines were for snacks and soda?
COVID-19 home test kits will soon be sold via vending machines in cities including New York. But they won’t be as cheap as a bag of chips.
Health company Wellness 4 Humanity is rolling out vending machines stocked with COVID-19 at-home test kits. The tests cost $149 a pop, according to the company’s website.
However, the convenience factor marks a sharp change from the beginning of the pandemic, when a shortage of tests for the coronavirus initially made them so hard to come by that influencers and celebrities had to use personal connections just to score one.
The vending machines — set to begin appearing this month in major cities across the US, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas — will dispense Emergency Use Authorized rapid antigen and reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) saliva tests. The saliva tests, which a Wellness 4 Humanity rep boasts have a 99% accuracy rate, come with a prepaid FedEx shipping label, so they can be sent to the company’s partner lab, with results promised within 48 hours.
The antigen tests will come at a later date, and provide results within 15 minutes, no shipping required.
The machines feature contactless purchase and payment on the buyer’s mobile device.
Before the end of this month, a rep told The Post, there should be one at 225 W. 34th St. in Midtown Manhattan.
“These vending machines are a significant milestone in helping to provide Americans with easier access to fast, highly accurate COVID-19 testing,” Wellness 4 Humanity co-founder and CEO Lian Nguyen Pham said in a press release. “We’ve seen similar vending machines placed in highly populated, highly trafficked areas of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom to help contain the spread of the virus and, given the surge in cases the U.S. is currently experiencing, we hope to roll out our vending machines as soon as possible.”
Wellness 4 Humanity partnered with San Francisco-based tech company Swyft for the venture. In 2020, Swyft placed personal protective equipment-dispensing vending machines in 10 subway stations throughout NYC, in partnership with the MTA.
They’re not the only ones offering such machines. The University of California in San Diego, California, planned to install about a dozen test vending machines around its campus earlier this year. Those use on-campus labs to test the swabs and are free for students. And free tests were available for Hong Kong residents starting last month at various subway stations.