COVID tests and vaccines lift Walgreens' profits
Walgreens increased profit projections for the rest of its fiscal year due to surging demand for at-home COVID-19 tests, drive-thru tests and vaccinations amid the latest outbreaks.
The big picture: Pharmacy chains continue to reap massive financial gains from the pandemic, as they often serve as the first place people go when they need a COVID test or vaccine.
By the numbers: In 2021, Walgreens employees administered 56 million COVID vaccines and conducted 23 million COVID tests.
- Sales in health and wellness products in the most recent quarter were up 25% year over year, stemming almost entirely from people buying rapid tests.
Yes, but: All of this demand, as well as the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is crushing Walgreens' workforce.
- Executives said there have been staffing shortages, which have prompted some stores to reduce their hours.
- Walgreens' pharmacists also are having a difficult time keeping up with both filling prescriptions and giving COVID vaccines, so "there's been a high level of stress in the system," CFO James Kehoe said on a conference call.
Go deeper: Pharmacists are at a breaking point