The Biden administration announced on Monday that the US Department of Defense and US Department of Health and Human Services are working with Australian company Ellume to provide more of its fully at-home Covid-19 tests to the United States.
“Ellume has been ramping up manufacturing and will ship 100,000 test kits per month to the US from February through July,” Andy Slavitt, the White House Covid-19 senior adviser, said during a White House briefing on Monday. “That’s good but it’s obviously not where we’ll need to be.”
The award announced Monday provides $231.8 million to Ellume USA for onshore production capacity of the at-home tests for the United States. Slavitt said this will scale up production to more than 19 million test kits per month by the end of the year, 8.5 million of which are guaranteed to the US government.
Slavitt said on Monday the test can detect Covid-19 with 95% accuracy within roughly 15 minutes.
The price of the test is about $30, but Slavitt said that “costs will come down, only when we can get to that mass production and scale.”
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In December, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the Ellume Covid-19 test for emergency use. This rapid antigen test, sold over-the-counter, can be done at home using a nasal swab, dropper and processing fluid. The test uses an analyzer that connects with a software app on your smartphone to help you perform the test and then interpret your results all from home, similar to at-home pregnancy tests.