The Biden administration will again offer free at-home COVID-19 testing to U.S. households ahead of the colder fall and winter months.
Twelve domestic manufacturers have received $600 million to produce approximately 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, which will be made available to the public starting September 25 through COVIDTests.gov, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday.
Households can order up to four free tests, which are valid until the end of the year and are intended to detect the currently circulating variants of the coronavirus.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, working with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production of domestic rapid at-home COVID-19 tests and help contain the spread of the virus.”
California-based health products maker iHealth received the largest federal outlay, $167 million, to produce the new tests. New Jersey-based Access Bio will receive the second-largest payment, $88.7 million, under the new program.
Advin, CorDx, Kwell Laboratories and Quidel are the other California-based companies receiving funding. Azure in Texas, InBios in Washington, Maxim Bio in Maryland, OraSure Technologies in Pennsylvania, Sekisui in Delaware and Princeton BioMeditech in New Jersey have also received millions of dollars from the Biden administration to produce the new COVID tests.
“Producing COVID-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our dependence on other countries, and provides good jobs for hard-working Americans,” said Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response , in a statement statement. “ASPR’s investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase the availability of testing in the future.”
The Biden administration’s latest initiative follows four previous rounds of delivery that enabled over 755 million people to receive free COVID testing, according to HHS.
While the COVID-19 public health emergency was officially declared over in May, health officials across the country are seeing a steady increase in cases of the virus.
“As we approach the fall and winter months and once again see a surge in COVID across the state, I urge all New Yorkers to remember that COVID is a treatable disease and we now have an updated vaccine to do so will help reduce your risk of serious illness and hospitalization. Remember, it’s about personal protection, personal prevention and personal well-being,” said Dr. James McDonald, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, earlier this month.