THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Americans will once again be able to get free at-home COVID-19 tests.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it will spend $600 million to buy and offer the tests, produced by 12 domestic manufacturers, and it will begin accepting orders for those tests on Monday through covidtests.gov. Households that order will receive four free tests.
"The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership 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 an agency news release. "These critical investments will strengthen our nation's production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus."
This plan will not only get tests in the hands of people in case of another COVID-19 surge, but it will also increase domestic manufacturing capacity, officials noted. Manufacturers can sell tests directly to retailers, rather than the government, if there is significant demand for them, said Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the HHS.
The government's investment will pay for about 200 million tests to replenish the country's stockpile, the HHS said. Free tests have been previously offered at other times during the pandemic, including from early 2022 through summer of that year and from late 2022 until the spring of 2023.