US Procures Additional 100 Million Tests as Part of Biden’s ‘At-Home COVID-19 Tests’ Plan

US Procures Additional 100 Million Tests as Part of Biden’s ‘At-Home COVID-19 Tests’ Plan
Take-home COVID-19 self testing kits provided by the District of Columbia government, which provides city residents four free take home tests per day, are seen in this illustration taken on Jan. 11, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
Lorenz Duchamps

The U.S. government has procured an additional 100 million COVID-19 tests via iHealth Lab Inc. as part of the Biden administration’s plan to distribute millions of free at-home tests across the country.

“This effort supports the president’s plan to deliver 500 million free at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation in response to the Omicron variant,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Friday. “The procurement was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act to supply critical medical resources to the nation,” it added.

The White House announced in a statement last month that President Joe Biden’s administration will mail out some 500 million COVID-19 tests, starting in January.

Americans can order the rapid tests through a new website:—though with a limit of four tests per residential address. The tests will typically be shipped to households via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) within 7 to 12 days of ordering them.
The batch of tests, paid for by taxpayers, is aimed at easing a shortage of tests across the country amid increased demand during the spread of Omicron, a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus that is able to easily bypass protection from COVID-19 vaccines while also being better at evading the protection from prior infection. The strain, however, causes much less severe cases of COVID-19.

A White House official said the government expects to pay some $4 billion to cover the first 500 million tests promised by Biden.

Meanwhile, additional federal test sites were also set up this month in relation to the plan, as a bid to help “states that need additional testing capacity,” according to the White House.

The increase in testing came after the Biden administration had already spent $130 billion from the American Rescue Plan to keep schools open, plus an additional $10 billion for testing at schools.

In mid-January, the president’s administration said it will up the number of COVID-19 tests it provides to schools to 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests every month.

Biden announced the new measure after facing criticism that his administration has mainly focused on getting people vaccinated, but hasn’t done enough to encourage mask-wearing and spur testing.

Reuters contributed to this report.