By The Associated Press undefined
WASHINGTON — Federal officials will begin shipping tens of millions of rapid coronavirus tests to state governors this month for use in reopening schools.
The Trump administration’s top testing official, Admiral Brett Giroir, laid out plans Tuesday to distribute some of the 150 million tests ordered from test maker Abbott Laboratories. The federal purchase was first announced last week.
Abbott’s rapid test, the size of a credit card, is the first that doesn’t require specialty computer equipment to develop. The test delivers results in about 15 minutes and is priced at $5, significantly lower than similar older tests.
Giroir says the “great majority” would go to U.S. governors for use in screening children at K-12 schools. The tests could be used to test first responders and other high-risk populations.
Tests will be shipped to 20,000 assisted living facilities. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not overseen by Medicare. Because assisted living facilities also house a vulnerable population, they face some of the same risks as nursing homes.
Since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. testing has mainly relied on nasal swab tests sent to labs for processing. But supply shortages led to testing backlogs, delaying results and hindering efforts to track cases.
Health experts view rapid tests run outside the laboratory as key to expanding the number of tests ahead of the flu season. However, Abbott’s new test still requires a nasal swab by a health worker. In general, rapid tests like Abbott’s are less accurate than lab-developed tests. The FDA has said in some cases, negative results with Abbott’s test may need to be confirmed with a lab test.