The US government is investing $231.8 million to increase production of an at-home COVID-19 test. Australian manufacturer Ellume will deliver 8.5 million tests for federal use as part of the deal. The company will open a factory in the US, where it plans to make at least 500,000 test kits per day by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg. Ellume is currently producing around 100,000 tests daily.
The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency clearance to Ellume’s test in December. The $30, single-use test can analyze a nasal swab and send the results to an app in around 15 minutes. It’s said to be 95 percent accurate. As the Associated Press notes, Ellume’s test is one of three that US residents can self-administer and the only one that’s available over the counter.
Health experts have been calling for expanded at-home testing to make it easier for people to determine whether they have COVID-19 and, if so, to avoid contact with others. However, it can take some time for manufacturing to scale up.
Most tests still require health professionals to perform a nasal swab, many of which are sent to labs for analysis. The FDA previously approved other tests that can deliver results in under 15 minutes.
Many airlines and countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before allowing travelers to fly or enter the country. Having the option to carry out a test at home with rapid results could make it easier for people to travel if they need to.