The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued two new funding opportunities for diagnostic test manufacturers to develop the next generation of COVID diagnostics tests, with a major focus on accessibility.

The funding opportunities are part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Tech program, managed by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). The new programs may award up to $300 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to support the accelerated development of tests and provide regulatory guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

The first solicitation is for accessible over-the-counter tests that can be used by people with disabilities, specifically blindness, low vision, fine motor skill difficulties, and aging-related disabilities. Products should be ready for commercialization in 12-24 months.

The second solicitation focuses on improving performance of over-the-counter and point-of-care tests as well as integrating universal design features to ensure ease of use. Tests should aim to minimize or eliminate the need for serial testing and performance should be unaffected by variants. Products should be ready for commercialization in 24-36 months.

This effort builds on a highly successful program that has increased the United States testing capacity by billions in the span of two years and compressed the technology development timeline from years to months. Applications can be submitted starting Sept. 20, 2022.

More information can be found at the RADx Tech page.

Featured image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell infected with the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample. Photo: NIAID