The Biden Administration will buy $1 billion worth of rapid at-home PCR tests, aimed at increasing access to testing to drive down infections of SARS-CoV-2. The purchase will supply up to 200 million tests per month to U.S. households by December.
The administration is also aiming to increase free testing by doubling President Biden’s earlier commitment to expand the number of pharmacies in the federal government’s free testing program to 20,000, Zients said at a news briefing Wednesday. Biden last month announced a coronavirus response plan that envisioned a significant expansion of testing capacity.
The United States has lagged several European and Asian countries in testing for much of the pandemic, with many Americans reporting in recent months that they have struggled to get testing appointments or to be able to purchase at-home tests.While the FDA has authorized several at-home tests, public health experts criticized the agency for not moving faster to greenlight more of them to expedite the tests’ availability.
“These tests are cheap to make, and there’s a lot of demand for it out there,” said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “The reason the market hasn’t worked is because the FDA has made it very difficult for these tests to get out into the marketplace.”
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