The Biden administration announced 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 senior Biden White House adviser for Covid Response, said during a White House briefing on Monday.
"That's good but it's obviously not where we'll need to be – so I'm excited to announce that today, the Department of Defense and HHS has awarded $230 million to Ellume in order to scale the manufacturing base and capacity of this easy-to-use test," Slavitt said. "Thanks to this contract, they'll be able to scale their production to manufacture more than 19 million test kits per month by the end of this year, 8.5 million of which are guaranteed to the US government."
Slavitt said the test can detect Covid-19 with 95% accuracy within roughly 15 minutes.
In December, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the Ellume Covid-19 test for emergency use. This 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.
Scientists have been pushing for this kind of accessible and affordable at-home testing since the start of the pandemic – and although the Trump administration previously insisted that anyone who wants a test can get one, that didn't always happen.