The first at-home rapid test for the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 may soon be available without prescription. The test made by Ellume, can send results to your smartphone within 15 minutes of receiving a sample. That’s why the Biden administration made a $231.8 million deal with the company.
Back in December, the FDA gave emergency authorization to Ellume’s rapid test, after it showed 96% accuracy in a U.S. clinical study. In a press release, the company said its contract, with the U.S. Defense Department, will help fund construction of Ellume’s first manufacturing plant in the U.S. The company says they will be able to produce more than 500,000 tests per day.
The test uses a relatively short nasal swab to collect a sample. The sample is put into a digital analyzer linked to a smartphone app. The test will be available for about $30.
The Ellume contract is “a step in the right direction towards identifying fast tools that can actually help serve to identify and slow spread,” says Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard epidemiologist who has been a vocal advocate for widespread rapid tests. What’s needed, he says, are “tests that are highly accessible, abundant, can be used frequently, provide immediately actionable results and are $5 [or less] per test. A test that does not meet each of these [criteria] will not perform well as a public health test to fight this pandemic.”
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