Biden Administration to Resume Distribution of Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests
Starting September 25, the Biden administration plans to reinstate the distribution of free at-home COVID-19 tests to households across the United States. Through the government’s COVIDTests.gov portal, each household will be able to request up to four free tests, which will be shipped via the U.S. Postal Service beginning October 2.
This move comes as a renewed effort to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and provide Americans with accessible testing options. The government had previously offered free test kits last winter, but shipments were paused in May to conserve supplies. However, other free testing options have remained available through programs like the CDC’s Increasing Community Access to Testing program.
The four tests that will be provided are antigen tests, which are known for their affordability and ease of use. However, it is important to note that these tests have a higher chance of yielding false negative results. Despite this drawback, the tests will remain usable through at least the end of the year.
To further encourage testing, the FDA has urged Americans to test again every 48 hours if they initially receive a negative result. This ongoing effort is aimed at catching potential cases early and curbing the spread of the virus.
As part of a broader strategy, the Biden administration is providing $600 million in awards to twelve manufacturers for the production of COVID-19 tests in the United States. This massive investment is expected to result in the creation of 200 million new over-the-counter tests for future needs. The contracts with these manufacturers will also allow them to act as a “warm base” for increased production in case unexpected surges occur.
Of the awarded manufacturers, the California-based company iHealth is receiving the largest award of $167 million. These contracts ensure that test companies will prioritize supplying kits to the private market before fulfilling federal stockpile orders.
If the demand for tests increases or there is enough supply, additional tests may be made available later in the year. This will further enhance the accessibility and availability of testing options for the American population.
With these measures in place, the Biden administration aims to bolster national testing efforts, thus enabling individuals to take charge of their health and contribute to the collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
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