6th October (WNN) — The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a $1 billion investment to expand access to home testing, allowing the country to quadruple the number of tests available to Americans by December.
Jeff Gents, coordinator of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, said the increase would boost the number of rapid home tests to 200,000 per month by December, with officials providing updates on testing, vaccinations and therapeutics. .
The investment comes on top of a $2 billion commitment to expand access to the test, announced in September.
On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized an additional rapid at-home COVID-19 test from ACON Laboratories. The Flowflex COVID-19 Home Test is the latest of more than 400 COVID-19 tests and sample collection devices that the FDA has authorized since March 2020.
Zients also announced on Wednesday plans to double the number of local pharmacies that will offer free COVID-19 testing to 20,000 as part of the federal government’s pharmacy program, with 10,000 additional community-based sites offering free testing. will offer.
“The steps we are taking together will ensure that every American, regardless of their income level or zip code, can access accurate, convenient and affordable testing,” Ziant said.
President Joe Biden was expected to visit Chicago on Thursday to discuss the vaccination mandate. Chicago-based United Airlines is one of the first major airlines to require a COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccination requirements work,” Ziants said. “New data every day reinforces that fact.”
Zients also updated progress on COVID-19 booster shots, saying that nearly 4 million Americans have received booster shots, doubling the number of people who received shots in the first week since the shots were approved on Sept.
“Our booster program is not only up and running, but it’s also accelerating,” Ziants said.
Rochelle Valensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations have declined over the past week.
It reported a seven-day average of 97,910 new COVID-19 cases per day, a decrease of 12.5% from the previous week. The number of hospitalizations declined by about 14.6% to an average of 7,464 per day and the average daily COVID-19 deaths have remained steady at around 1,400.
Valensky said health officials are concerned about the potential for a severe flu season after last year’s mild season.
“Flu infections and increased flu severity can place an additional burden on our health system and increase the strain on our nation’s healthcare workers,” Valensky said.
She urged Americans to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza, saying it was safe and effective to get both vaccinations at the same time. Influenza kills 12,000 to 52,000 people every year.
“Getting vaccinated against the flu and against COVID-19 is the best way everyone can stay healthy, protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community,” Valensky said.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease chief Anthony Fauci updated progress on the Biden administration’s $3.2 billion investment in the development of antiviral treatments.
Fauci said Merck’s oral antiviral drug mollupiravir has shown promise in trials as a potential treatment that people can take home soon after a COVID-19 diagnosis to reduce the risk of serious consequences. Cautioning that the drug will still need to be closely scrutinized by the FDA.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, referring to the vaccine mandate, said such requirements are not new, they work and they are necessary to protect the common good.
Murthy said the vaccine requirements have existed throughout the country’s history, noting that the then Gen. George Washington required soldiers to vaccinate against smallpox in 1777, public schools began requiring vaccinations in the 1800s, and doctors and nurses complied with vaccine requirements for years.
“Vaccine requirements reflect a fundamental reality that our personal decisions affect other people when it comes to COVID,” Murthy said. “We don’t live in a bubble. We live in a community.
“Caring for each other, for our collective health and well-being, makes us strong and resilient as a nation,” he said. “Vaccine requirements help us continue this tradition of protecting the common good.”