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Walgreens administered 56 million COVID shots in 2021. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 27 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.