The Biden administration on Monday announced a big push to make rapid COVID-19 home tests available with a $230 million federal contract to an Australian company.
The Department of Defense's deal will allow Ellume to open a U.S. factory and make 19 million rapid tests each month, 8.5 million of which will be provided to the federal government, officials said.
Ellume is the only company to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization to make a home COVID-19 test that doesn't need a lab or a medical provider's prescription. The 15-minute test includes a nasal swab for users to collect a sample and place into a cartridge and is used with a smartphone app that displays results.
Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 response team, said the deal will spur mass production and lower costs of rapid tests.
"There’s a chicken and egg problem that we have actually taken a step to solve today," said Slavitt.
Slavitt acknowledged policy questions remain unanswered on how federal, state and local governments and school districts will make these tests available and affordable. "Things that are not low cost and accessible don’t do us all the good that we need," he said.