Biden Says U.S. to Procure 500 Million More Covid-19 Tests

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Administration now plans to provide a total of 1 billion rapid tests to the public and send military medical teams to hospitals, says president

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The president said last month that the US would buy an initial batch of 500 million tests to be distributed for free. Public health officials say they are doubling that number amid a growing need for more accessible testing as a result of the Omron version.

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Biden Administration contract is fulfilled White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that for 380 million of the first tranche of 500 million tests. The administration will award contracts for a second batch of 500 million tests once the first batch is secured, Ms. Saki said.

The tests will be sent to people who request them through a website and phone hotline, starting in the coming weeks. Mr Biden said the website would be launched next week, but did not give a date when the public would start receiving tests. White House officials have said they plan to begin shipping trials this month, but have not offered a detailed timeline or said how many tests people can request.

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Mr Biden has come under criticism by public-health officials, Republicans and some members of his own party for not doing more to distribute tests to the public amid record numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations .

In some cities, lines have stretched for several times a free trial for several city blocks and pharmacies have struggled to keep rapid tests on shelves. Some families are still spending hundreds of dollars on testing, despite efforts being made to provide free testing at the state and federal levels. Others are going through the test entirely because they say it’s too hard to find. Meanwhile, companies have had varying success securing tests for their employees.

The US has an estimated production capacity of 260 million rapid antigen tests this month, according to a January 12 report by researchers at Arizona State University and Health Catalysts Group, a consulting firm. He estimated that monthly production capacity would increase to 355 million tests in February and 526 million tests in March.

The administration’s latest test-buying plans could ramp up US production again, said Mara Espinol, co-founder of the Biomedical Diagnostics Program at Arizona State University, which tracks the COVID-19 test market.

“I imagine some manufacturers are looking for ways to increase production given the potential for these large pre-purchase contracts,” said Ms. Espinall, who is also a board member of rapid-test manufacturer OraSure Technologies. Inc.

Some rapid testing advocates said the rollout required better communication with the administration about how to obtain the tests and when and how to use them.

“There hasn’t been a big push for a communication campaign. These tests need to be used strategically,” said Sarah Sittenbaum, co-director of the volunteer advocacy group Rapid Test.

During Thursday’s speech, the president also detailed plans to deploy military medical teams to hospitals in six states.

According to the White House, the teams will be stationed at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Coney Island Hospital in New York, Rhode Island Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, University of New Mexico Hospital and University Hospital in New Jersey.

The White House said additional military medical teams would be deployed to other states in the coming weeks if needed. During a December speech, Mr Biden said 1,000 military personnel would be sent to hospitals in the coming months, but did not specify which hospitals would receive additional aid.

Mr Biden again encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and promoted, saying the Omicron boom was hitting the hardest.

“Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive, but what happens after that couldn’t be more different,” he said, adding that unvaccinated individuals contracting the virus compared to those vaccinated. are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized in the

He also called on social media and media companies to monitor misinformation on their platforms regarding vaccines.

Write Andrew Restuccia at [email protected] and Brianna Abbott at [email protected]

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