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Biden Pushes for More Accessible COVID Testing

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Last week the Biden-Harris Administration announced it is doubling down on its effrots to improve the accessibility of their COVID-19 response.

  • New effort to develop at-home COVID-19 tests that are accessible to all.  Last week, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech program announced a new effort to seek both short- and long-term solutions to improve at-home test accessibility. RADx® will consult and work with experts from NIH, national organizations who represent communities in need of accessible tests, and test manufacturers to inform the modification or development of more accessible at-home tests, including device design, packaging, modes of instruction, and other challenges. Though at-home COVID-19 tests were only invented last year, the Administration’s investment in this technology has rapidly scaled up manufacturing to the millions per day. This effort strives to ensure that all individuals have an option for at-home testing that can be used and interpreted without assistance. NIH’s press release is available here.
  • Calling on all rapid test manufacturers to prioritize accessibility. Last Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a formal request for information (RFI) to ensure the preservation and expansion of current domestic manufacturing capacities for over-the-counter rapid antigen and point-of-care COVID-19 tests. The RFI specifically asks manufacturers to include an assessment of the accessibility of their tests—including self-administration and result interpretation—for people who are blind or visually-impaired; individuals with physical, cognitive, or other disabilities; and individuals who need non-English language or literacy support. The RFI states, “If your company’s product is largely inaccessible for these individuals, please provide a clear and definitive description of how you can improve accessibility.” The Administration will use the RFI submissions to inform near-term investments. 


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