The White House is putting its free COVID-19 testing kit program on pause starting this Friday, September 2, according to White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.
Dr. Jha told CNN on Monday that the Biden administration would be halting shipments of free COVID test kits to US households this week because the stockpile of test kits is dwindling after months of sending them out, and the White House wants to preserve what is left in case of a surge in cases this fall.
Jha also pointed out that the White House hopes to move to a more commercial approach to testing soon, making test kits available via healthcare providers and hospitals.
Funding previously meant to supply the national test kit stockpile has been redirected to efforts to provide booster shots that target the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron sub variants of the virus, which the White House hopes to roll out in September. Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna both submitted applications to the FDA this week to manufacture and distribute the new boosters.
A senior Biden administration official told NBC News the White House hopes to secure more funding for additional test kits. “If Congress provides funding, we will expeditiously resume distribution of free tests through covidtests.gov,” the source said. “Until then, we believe reserving the remaining tests for distribution later this year is the best course.”
According to the CDC, there are currently about 82,000 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, along with an average 396 daily deaths from the virus. The past two years have seen a spike in cases in the fall and into winter.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LA TIMES
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