People will shell out a ton of money for all sorts of things: a pair of Rolling Stones tickets, a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, you name it. But this season the hottest, got-to-have-it new item on the market, the thing that people will pay just about anything for, is... a virus test?
Heather Shadley-Tovar shelled out $120 to get her daughter a PCR test.
Elisha Wright spent about $300 on her daughters' antigen tests.
And Libertad Wright-Villanueva "bit the bullet" and ponied up $346 for her son and husband's tests.
All are members of the San Diego Vaccine Hunters Facebook group. They were exposed to COVID over the holidays. At-home antigen test kits were sold out and free appointments were booked for weeks, but some needed to know if they had put their relatives at risk and others wanted to know if they were clear to celebrate the new year with relatives. So, they paid for testing.
Those are some eye-popping figures. But don't pop your eyes back in just yet:
"The rapid test for my son was $125, paid out of pocket in advance. And my daughter's PCR test with a report was $299. I swallowed hard," Izzo said. All up, it was $434.
Wow. Just for reference, that number is significantly more than the average U.S. monthly grocery budget, which stands at around $386.
Things change very rapidly in the 21st century economy, it's true, but did you ever imagine, two years ago, that in the near future people would be dropping serious change on "antigen tests?"
It is not hard to see the black market that's emerging here, one in which shady fencers trade in unmarked crates of COVID tests in back-alley deals out of trunks and white vans: