Washington (AP) —For the first time, people across the United States can log on to government websites and order free home COVID-19 testing, White House Push Little may be done to mitigate the Omicron surge, and experts say Washington has to do more to fix the country’s long-standing problematic test system.
website, COVIDTests.govRegardless of citizenship status, you can order four home tests per household and deliver them by mail, but after an Omicron case is expected, the tests will not arrive for 7-12 days. peak In many parts of the country.
The White House also announced on Wednesday that it will start making 400 million N95 masks It is available free of charge at pharmacies and community health centers.both Initiative Long seen in parts of Europe and Asia, but in the United States represents a lagging type of large-scale government investment.
Experts said the plan to distribute a billion tests is a good first step, but it must be a regular part of the pandemic response.The government used its purchasing power to make vaccines abundant for free. Stable test supply, They said.
“The rapid diagnostic guide should look exactly like the vaccine guide,” said Zoe McLellan, a medical economist at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore County. “Both of these help keep cases down and manage COVID.”
Two packs of hometests usually sell for over $ 20 over the counter. If you can find one in the surge of tests caused by Omicron. Since last week, insurers have been required to pay for up to eight home-based rapid tests purchased at drug stores and online retail stores.
The four test limits on government websites may not be too far in some homes.
Kristen Keymont, 30, is a vocal and piano teacher who teaches and shares a home in Ipswich, Massachusetts online with her partner and two others. When one of her housemates tested positive just before Christmas, she and her partner spent $ 275 to buy more than 12 tests.
“I like one test each,” she said. “We’re glad we have them, but if one of us is exposed, we still need to buy more.”
She said the request should be linked to each individual rather than the address of each residence.
Also, some people who lived in buildings with multiple units were denied test requests. The website said that the test for that address had already been ordered. As those complaints surfaced on social media, people began to share advice on how to enter an apartment or unit number in a way that websites accept them.
The United States failed the initial deployment of the government-created COVID-19 test early in the outbreak and did not actually get back on track. Private companies are currently testing more than 250 million homes a month, but that’s still not enough for most Americans to test themselves often.
The Biden administration has focused most of its early COVID-19 efforts on vaccine deployment. As infections declined last spring, demand for testing plummeted and many manufacturers began closing their factories. Only in September, after the Delta Surge went into full swing, the Biden administration announced its first federal contract aimed at a jump start. Home test production.
In countries such as the UK and Germany, billions of tests were purchased and distributed shortly after they became available last year.
Dr. Amy Carger, a test specialist at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, said: “And if something amazing happens, as in Omicron, the bandwidth isn’t that great.”
Even with government intervention, the United States faces a huge test load as it has five times the population of the United Kingdom.
In the United States, every teen and adult needs 2.3 billion tests a month to test themselves twice a week. That’s more than double the number of home exams the government plans to distribute over the months.
Dr. David Michaels, a former member of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said the government will probably need to demand more federal funding to fund inspections over the next few years. I said I would.
Michaels, a professor of public health at George Washington University, said: “Billions of more tests are needed to save lives and sustain the economy.”
For now, the tests will probably continue to be tense, and even the most bullish advocates have said that the United States must carefully consider where home tests can bring the greatest benefits- For example, by distributing them to those who are most vulnerable to the virus.
“In fact, the United States doesn’t have that mass testing capability,” said Michael, chief science officer at home testing service eMed, who called for the use of billions of tests a month to quell a pandemic. Dr. Mina said. .. “We should now consider how to use these tests in a strategic way. We don’t just want to dilute them across the population.”
Until recently, Mina was a professor at Harvard University and has informally advised federal authorities on testing.
Mina and others acknowledge that the widespread use of rapid testing is not without its drawbacks. The results of home tests are rarely reported to health authorities, providing an incomplete picture of the pandemic’s breadth and scale.
Over 2 million test results are reported daily to US health authorities, almost all of which come from laboratory-processed tests. Some researchers estimate that the actual number of daily tests is about 5 million, considering home tests.
Brumback reported from Atlanta.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
The United States has launched a billion free COVID tests, but needs more | Coronavirus Information Center
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