Federal COVID-19 test distribution plan further strains US supply

The Biden administration's plan to distribute 1 billion rapid COVID-19 tests is putting pressure on manufacturers and distributors to bolster tight nationwide supplies, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 16. 

Supply shortages coupled with the increasing demand for testing has prompted some labs across the nation to ration access and prioritize patients presenting symptoms or other health concerns. 

The U.S. has an estimated capacity of 260 million rapid antigen tests for this month, a Jan. 12 report from Arizona State University and Health Catalysts Group found. Mara Aspinall, co-founder of the Biomedical Diagnostics program at Arizona State University, told The Wall Street Journal the plan may cause manufacturers to further scale-up production.

The Department of Defense announced Jan. 13 contracts totaling 380 million tests with three rapid-test makers, Abbott Rapid Dx North America, iHealth Lab and Roche Diagnostics. The contracts have estimated completion dates of March 14. 

A spokesperson for Abbott Laboratories told The Wall Street Journal the company plans to make 70 million BinaxNow tests in the U.S. in January and plans to reach output of 100 million a month by March.


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