Biden brings back $600M COVID test program

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration introduced Wednesday that it’s offering $600 million in funding to supply new at-home COVID-19 exams and is restarting a web site permitting Americans to once more order as much as 4 free exams per family — aiming to stop attainable shortages throughout an increase in coronavirus circumstances that has sometimes come throughout colder months.

The Department of Health and Human Services says orders will be positioned at beginning Sept. 25, and that no-cost exams shall be delivered totally free by the United States Postal Service.

Twelve producers that make use of tons of of individuals in seven states from California to Maryland have been awarded funding and can produce 200 million over-the-counter exams to replenish federal stockpiles for presidency use, along with producing sufficient exams to satisfy demand for exams ordered on-line, the division stated.

The new effort is supposed to protect in opposition to provide chain points that sparked some shortages of at-home COVID exams made abroad throughout previous surges in coronavirus circumstances. But it additionally illustrates the political steadiness President Joe Biden is attempting to strike as he seeks reelection subsequent yr between trumpeting his administration having led the nation by the worst of the pandemic whereas additionally attempting to attempting to higher put together for the continued results of a virus that persists.

Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, stated that although some parts of the general public could also be bored with the pandemic and its implications, at home-testing stays a key strategy to sluggish the unfold of recent circumstances.

“Whether or not people are done with it, we know the virus is there, we know that it’s circulating. We know, if past is prologue, it’ll circulate to a higher degree and spread, and cases will go up in the fall and winter seasons,” O’Connell stated. “Anticipating that that would be true again, or something similar, we want to make sure the American people have these tools.”

O’Connell stated the web site will stay useful to obtain orders by the vacations and “we reserve the right to keep it open even longer if we’re starting to see an increase in cases.”

“If there is a demand for these tests, we want to make sure that they’re made available to the American people for free in this way,” O’Connell stated. “But, at this point, our focus is getting through the holidays and making sure folks can take a test if they’re going to see Grandma for Thanksgiving.”

The exams are designed to detect COVID variants presently circulating, and are supposed to be used by the top of the yr. But they are going to embody directions on easy methods to confirm prolonged expiration dates, the division stated.

The initiative follows 4 earlier rounds the place federal officers and the U.S. Postal Service supplied greater than 755 million exams totally free to properties nationwide.