Self test: The black market on Facebook, Instagram and eBay

According to experts, reselling the tests in small quantities and without much profit is not illegal

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When Patrick Kennedy, who lives in New York City, tested positive for coronavirus, he desperately wanted to get more self-tests, not only to monitor his health, but also to see when it would be safe to return to. His work. But in New York, this is not so easy. 

"It is impossible to find a coronavirus test because of the shortages in the city," Kennedy told CNN. "I want to go back to work but I have to make sure I take the right measures and do not expose anyone to the virus."

After waiting in long queues at test centers and visiting pharmacies to buy self tests, it had no effect. And then, he found an Instagram post from an old classmate who was selling tests directly to customers: $ 20 for each test and $ 5 for delivery. It was cheaper than some tests sold in New York pharmacies. Kennedy bought five.

And he is not the only American who is forced to turn to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Craigslist, LinkedIn and eBay in order to find the self tests that have disappeared from pharmacies in the US, while citizens wait in line for hours at its centers. testing.

Kennedy's old classmate only reveals his first name. Joey and is an electrician. Bought 100 tests from a friend who works for a healthcare company. "I need to get tested for my job and so it was starting to get very annoying to have to wait for three hours at the health center and sometimes not even get tested," he told CNN. In pharmacies, he even paid $ 45 for two tests. "It could not go on."

After buying the 100 tests for $ 900 (about $ 9 each), he started offering them on Facebook and Instagram to people in the local community. He says he sold 25 the first night and 45 the next day, many of them to strangers and parents who needed them to send their children to school after the holidays.

"My goal is not to make a lot of money. I had access to the tests - I did not deprive them of others by buying in large quantities from the pharmacy - it is almost criminal that people wait in line for hours in the cold, which may make them even sicker. "I decided to deliver them directly to the houses," he explains.

At Amazon, CVS Health and Walgreens, there are now restrictions on the number of tests each customer can purchase. Walmart recently raised prices for rapid tests from $ 14 to $ 20 for both.

According to experts, reselling the tests in small quantities and without much profit is not illegal. But there are risks. The Federal Trade Commission recently published instructions on how to avoid buying fake coronavirus tests online.

The Biden administration recently pledged to distribute 500 million free self-tests, but it is unclear when the platform will work so Americans can request it and when it will be shipped. A government official told CNN that "we are working on the details. We will have them in the coming weeks ".

"One black market that makes tests available to those who can pay is the reaction to the government's failure at the national and state levels to provide adequate testing. Does it surprise me that a black market has started to grow? Not at all. There are many places you can not go unless you have a negative test, but there are no tests. "This is called an 'opportunity' for people on the black market," said Arthur Caplan, a professor at the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.

It is recalled that in the early stages of the pandemic, a black market had been created for protective equipment - antiseptic fluids, masks, gloves, aprons, etc.