Explainer: US COVID-19 rapid test giveaway
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden said the federal government would purchase half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge to people to use at home. But despite the public’s high demand for the tests, it’s still a few weeks before these kits can be shipped. The regulator is still working on details on how the scheme will work.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT TEST?
Not yet. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said this week that the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services had “executed so-called ‘accelerated emergency contracts”. The contract is expected to be signed soon.
WHEN SHOULD THE TEST KIT BE DELIVERED?
The first deliveries are expected in early January. All 500 million kits will not arrive at once but will instead be delivered in batches.
NO ANY TEST. HOW CAN I GET A FREE KIT FROM THE GOVERNMENT?
You’ll visit a new government website to request a kit, but the site won’t be active until the first batch of test kits are delivered, Psaki said. She said the process is being handled that way to avoid creating more confusion for the public. But the idea is that anyone who wants a test suite will log into this site to request a test suite.
“Obviously we’re not going to put the site up until there are tests,” Psaki said.
WHICH HOME TEST WILL I GET?
It is not clear. But Psaki notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several different brands of rapid at-home tests that are currently on the market.
CAN I BE LIMITED TO ONE TEST OR CAN I REQUEST MULTIPLE?
To be identified, Psaki said.
WHY BIDDING TO BUY THIS TEST KIT?
It represents the president’s acknowledgment that the administration needs to do more to increase access to COVID-19 testing, which is an important tool to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In cases where infected people show or have no symptoms, testing is the only way to find out if they have the virus, thereby avoiding going out and potentially spreading the disease.
But demand for testing kits skyrocketed as the holidays approached and people became eager to test themselves and their families before traveling and as the contagious omicron variant spread rapidly in just a few days. weeks to become the dominant bacterial strain in the US.
Biden’s promise of 500 million test kits goes beyond the administration’s previous pledge to send 50 million rapid test kits to community health centers around the country.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE PROGRAM?
The White House said the purchase would be paid for with money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Biden signed into law in March, the White House said. Exact costs will be known soon.
ANOTHER WAY TO GIVE A FREE TESTING KIT
Biden said in a statement Tuesday that, starting in January, private insurers will cover the cost of at-home testing. So people will have the option of buying tests in a store or online and then asking the health insurance provider to reimburse them.
The government will also provide access to free home tests to people who may not have health insurance, Biden said.