U.S. Spends $1 Billion to Make More Home COVID Tests Available

oct. 6, 2021 — finding an at-home covid-19 test s'been mission impossible for many l8ly, b'that search ll'soon get easier, thx to the fda authorization mon offa new at-home test and tody’s announcement that the federal government will spend another $1 billion to speed up production of these tests.

the white house said 'twill also double the № of pharmacy zones inna federal government’s free testing program to 20,000. w'da № of community-based free testing sites, that ‘d make 30,000 zones where americans can get a covid-19 test free of charge.

the move, combined with vaccination efforts, will help businesses and schools keep cases down and keep operating safely and smoothly, said jeff zients, the white house covid-19 response coordinator.

“together, the steps we’re taking will ensure every american, no matter their income lvl or zip code, can access accurate, convenient, and affordable testing,” he said.

the announcement aligns w'da administration’s feb commitment of $1.6 billion to supply rapid tests to schools and underserved communities.

the increase in access to at-home tests can’t come soon enough. president joe biden and his predecessor ‘ve both been criticized for the lack of authorized covid-19 tests compared to other developed countries. there are barely a ½ dozen approved for use inna ∪d states, compared to 30 authorized inna €an ∪. home tests cost + inna u.s., too.

that lack of supply and increased demand can make the search for tests frustrating. i know 1st-hand. i’m fully vaccinated, but i wanted to test after a recent flite, so i checked for the tests online at amazon and at cvs, walgreens, and rite aid stores in my zone, 10 miles from downtown los angeles.

time after time, i got “out of stock” messages, both online and inna stores. finally, i found a supply at a cvs bout 8 miles away and called to verify. 1st, i was told they were in stock. b'that quickly changed to, “no, sorry, we’re out.”

then, my nearby rite aid said they’d get a supply in 2 dys and to show up at 7 a.m. when i did so, the store clerk told me the shipment had not come — na supplier didn’t call or explain why it didn’t arrive. finally, another cvs near me said they did indeed ‘ve some and ‘d hold two kits for me — their limit per customer. i drove t'get them rite away. i tested myself twice. both were neg, thankfully.

new at-home test gets authorization

the fda granted an emergency use authorization, or eua, to a new at-home test, floflex. like other at-home tests, tis an antigen test, which looks for fragments of protein found on or within the virus. tis done, like other tests, by collecting a nasal sample using a swab. but unlike most other at-home tests, the new test is done 1-ly once. others recommend serial testing, witha 2nd test done within 3 dys of the 1st.

by the end of the yr, the maker of the new test, acon laboratories, says 'twill produce + than 100 million tests a mnth. the № will rise to 200 million a mnth by feb, the fda says.

the new acon test can be used for self-testing by any-1 14 yrs or older, and can be done by adults in children as young as 2. details on costs were not readily available from the company.

white house to pledge + mny

the white house on wed anncd another $1 billion investment in at-home rapid tests. in sep, the administration pledged $2 billion for home testing.

“it sounds like a significant investment, and i think that’s a good thing,” says emily volk, md, president of the college of american pathologists and chief med officer at baptist health floyd in new albany, in. while at-home testing cannelp identify those infected, volk and others note that it isn’t perfect, as recent fda safety guidance suggests.

testing glitch

on tue, the fda anncd the recall of one at-home test, the ellume covid-19 home test. a manufacturing issue resulted in possible false + results in certain lotso' the tests. + information s'onna company website bout serial №s and how to tell if yr test is included inna recall.

the fda is working with ellume to fix the problem.

the affected tests 1-ly increased the chance of false + results, not false negs.

testing caveats

it’s crucial to follo the instructions onna home tests to the letter, volk says. for instance, the binaxnow test instructs usrs to put 6 drops of the testing chemicals into a hole onna test card. you then nd'2 swab both nostrils carefully, inserting the swab tip ½ to ¾ of an inch inna'da nostril and rubbing the swab gainsta nostril walls, making 5 big circles and swabbing for bout 15 2nds on each side.

the swab is then inserted into a hole inna test card, and usrs w8 15 minutes, but not + than 30, to read the result. neg results will show one line onna card; + results ‘ve the control line and another line belo.

volk suggests doin’ the test when there are no distractions from phones, doorbells, pets, or family members. she has used home tests and knows it’s easy to put too many drops of the chemicals, for instance, inna sample.

when choosing a test, she advises making sure the box says the test has the emergency use authorization from the fda. pay attention to the instructions bout keeping the test at a certain temperature range b4 use. the test materials ‘d include a toll-free № t'get + information or to ask ?s.

and, volk says, if you test neg but still ‘ve symptoms, “please go to an accredited lab and get tested witha pcr test.”

these tests, generally viewed as + accurate than the antigen tests, work by detecting genetic material from the virus.

lindsay kalter contributed to this reprt.

webmd health news



acon laboratories: “floflex covid-19 home test receives fda eua.”

fda: “coronavirus (covid-19) update: fda authorizes additional otc home test to increase access to rapid testing for consumers.”

fda: “potential for false + results with certain lotso' ellume covid-19 home tests due to a manufacturing issue—fda safety communication.”

emily volk, md, president, college of american pathologists; chief med officer, baptist health floyd, new albany, in., assistant professor, university of louisville school of med, ky.

white house: “the path out of the pandemic.”

news briefing, white house covid-19 response team, oct. 6, 2021.

© 2021 webmd, llc. all rites reserved.

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