The Biden administration is providing $600 million in funding to produce more at-home COVID-19 tests and restarting its online ordering service that gives U.S. households access to tests as signs indicate that cases are increasing.
The Department of Health and Human Services says orders can be placed at COVIDTests.gov starting September 25 and free tests will be delivered free of charge by the United States Postal Service. Americans will be able to order up to four free tests per household under this program.
Funding will go to 12 manufacturers who will produce 200 million over-the-counter tests to replenish federal stockpiles for government use, as well as produce enough tests to meet public demand through the online ordering system, the United States Department of Health and Human Affairs. The services said Wednesday.
Federal officials said it would help guard against supply chain problems that triggered some shortages of at-home COVID tests conducted overseas during past surges in coronavirus cases.
As of September 9, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased nearly 8% from the previous week. Although this increase is lower than previous surges, cases are also on the rise in Europe and Canada, according to epidemiological data.
Dawn O’Connell, a*sistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. HHS, said the COVID-19 test ordering website will remain functional to receive orders over the holidays and “we reserve the right to keep it open even longer if we start.” see an increase in cases.
The tests are designed to detect COVID variants currently circulating and are expected to be used by the end of the year. But they will include instructions on how to check for extended expiration dates, the department said.
Unlike the U.S. program, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) distributes at-home tests directly to provinces and territories, which then provide them to pharmacies so residents can order them free of charge.
A PHAC spokesperson told PKBNEWS on Thursday that Canada has more than 90 million at-home COVID-19 tests in its federal reserve. Of these, around 700,000 tests are expected to expire by the end of this year.
“The Government of Canada continues to work with provinces and territories to ensure these tests are available free of charge to Canadians,” the agency said in a statement.
The release adds that the federal government is holding monthly bilateral meetings with each province and territory to “support any distribution requests.”
In fashion now
Ottawa has ordered more than 811 million rapid tests since the start of the pandemic, at a cost of approximately $5 billion. About 680 million of these amounts went to the provinces and territories.
Nearly 500 million of those tests were then distributed to pharmacies for public use, as well as businesses, community groups and government offices, leaving about 187 million in provincial and territorial stocks as of July, according to Procurement Canada.
The U.S. initiative follows four previous rounds in which federal officials and the U.S. Postal Service provided more than 755 million free tests to homes nationwide.
It also aims to complement ongoing federal efforts to provide free COVID tests to long-term care facilities, schools, low-income senior housing, the uninsured and underserved communities, which are already distributing them 4 million per week and have distributed 500 million tests to date. , indicated the ministry.
O’Connell said manufacturers receiving the new funding would be able to spread the 200 million tests they produce for federal use over 18 months.
The United States and Canada have approved updated COVID-19 vaccines for inoculations this fall and winter that protect against new variants of the virus.
— with files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press
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