White House Announces $230 Million Deal to Ramp Up Production for At-Home COVID Tests

Gavin Evans
·2 min read

Image via Getty/Circle Creative Studio

On Monday, the Biden administration announced a deal the would award the Australian-based company Ellume $230 million for the purpose of producing more over-the-counter/at-home COVID-19 test kits.

Said kits are supposed to have an accuracy rate of around 95 percent, and they're also supposed to process results in 15 minutes.

Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor for the COVID response, said that same thing almost word-for-word to reporters on Monday, telling them that "These are over-the-counter, self-performed test kits that can detect COVID with roughly 95 percent accuracy within 15 minutes."

Slavitt added, "They could be used if you feel symptoms of COVID, and also for screening for people without symptoms so they could safely go to work, to school, and to events. After you take the swab, you put the sample into a digital analyzer, which will send a result to your smartphone in about 15 minutes."

The Ellume tests were granted an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in December. At that point the company was pumping out only about 16,000 tests per month.

The tests are expected to cost around $30 each.

Slavitt says that the $230 million will give Ellume the ability to "scale the manufacturing base and capacity of this easy-to-use test." As for numbers, he says the production will be ramped up to 19 million test kits per month by the end of 2021 (an important note). Of those, 8.5 million would be guaranteed for the U.S. government, but until then the company will ship 100,000 tests per month from February through July.

NBC News writes that the tests work similar to home-pregnancy ones, and that they need a "mid-turbinate nasal swab" (which is not as obnoxious as the deeper swabs taken during the start of the pandemic). That swab would then be put into a Bluetooth-connected analyzer that's synched-up with an app.

Slavitt added his hopes that the price will be driven down as more tests become available. In an email to NBC back in January, Ellume said the tests could be purchased at over the counter pharmacies, drug stores, or over the internet.

In addition to Ellume's version, two more at-home tests are set to hit the market soon.

Ellume also noted that, with the funding it's getting, there are plans to build a U.S. based plant, according to The Independent. There's currently no timetable for that plant's completion.

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