Biden administration strikes deal for millions of at-home coronavirus tests

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The White House COVID-19 Response Team announced Monday millions of Americans could soon test themselves at home for about $30.

The Biden administration struck a $230 million deal with the Australian company, ellume, to guarantee production ramps up from 100,000 to more than 19 million test kits a month by the end of the year. Officials said the contract ensures at least 8.5 million tests would go to the U.S. per month.

“Making easier to use tests available to every American is a high priority with obvious benefits,” said Andy Slavitt, the team’s senior advisor.

Slavitt said the over-the-counter nasal swab is 95 percent accurate and produces results within 15 minutes for anyone two years and older, whether they have symptoms or not.

“So they can safely go to work, to school and to events,” he said.

Slavitt said federal, state and local governments will next have to assess how to make the test kits more affordable and regularly available to Americans, particularly students.

“The unit costs will come down only when we can get to that mass production and scale,” he said.

This comes as the team reported January was the deadliest month of the pandemic in the U.S. with 90,000 deaths, and variants of the virus from other countries continue to surge.

“Variants remain a great concern, and we continue to detect them in the United States,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Walensky confirmed nearly 500 variant cases from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil have been found across the U.S. That’s why Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged Americans to trust the shot.

“When the vaccine becomes available to you, please get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

To ramp up distribution, FEMA announced Monday the agency has obligated nearly $2 billion for vaccination sites and sent more than 300 staff members to states.

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