AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the omicron variant continues battering global COVID-19 infection rates, pharmacies nationwide are running out of at-home rapid test kits.

Earlier this week, Austin-Travis County began handing out free tests for residents, but demand was so high sites were forced to close once supplies ran out within a day.

At-home tests, or antigen tests, are quicker and easier to perform than molecular tests like the PCR, which take much longer and are processed in laboratories.

The common BinaxNOW at-home COVID-19 tests are produced by medical devices company Abbott — who said it’s also seeing sky-high demand.

“We’re sending them out as fast as we can make them,” John Koval, director of public affairs for Abbott, wrote to KXAN, in part. “This includes running our U.S. manufacturing facilities 24/7, hiring more workers and investing in automation.”

With more than 10,000 new confirmed cases in Texas on Thursday, which is the highest single-day total since late September, many Central Texans like Bennett Buchanan are searching several places for a test.

“I have elderly relatives coming into town, and I want to make sure I don’t expose my grandmother to COVID,” said Buchanan.

Like many, he found empty store shelves but was able to get an appointment today at Point of Care Health Services.

“I was always worried about the accuracy of the at-home test compared to a laboratory test,” said Buchanan.

KXAN has heard similar concerns from others who say they’ve received different results with the at-home and PCR tests. We took those questions to Dr. George Willeford, the medical director for Point of Care Health Services.

“Most of the home tests are antigen tests, which are not reliable in asymptomatic people. So if you’re trying to test before you go to grandma’s house for dinner, and you’re feeling fine, and you do an at-home antigen test, it’s not a very reliable test,” Willeford explained.

He said the antigen tests are about 90% accurate in symptomatic people.

“The PCR is the gold standard, and the PCR is 85% or 90%, accurate in both symptomatic and asymptomatic people,” Willeford explained.

As the 2021 holiday season unfolds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people should test between five and seven days after possible exposures.