On Wednesday the Biden Administration announced a series of actions it is taking to expand COVID-19 testing and prepare against the threat of variants of the virus.
One of those actions is the planned investment of $815 million from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials — two areas that have seen localized shortages across the country. The White House said that supplies and materials manufacturing that the investment will support include filter pipette tips, nitrocellulose used in antigen point-of-care tests and specific injected molded plastics needed to house testing reagents.
Another action announced Wednesday includes the expansion of COVID-19 testing for schools and underserved populations. The Department of HHS and DoD will invest $650 million to expand testing opportunities for K-8 schools and underserved congregate settings that include homeless shelters. HHS will establish regional coordinating centers to organize the distribution of COVID-19 testing supplies and partner with laboratories across the country, including universities and commercial labs, to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to the relevant public health agencies.
Thirdly, the Biden administration said it is working to rapidly increase virus genome sequencing to prepare against possible emerging variants of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will invest nearly $200 million to identify, track and mitigate emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2 through genome sequencing. The White House said the investment will increase the CDC's sequencing more than threefold from about 7,000 samples per week to approximately 25,000.
The White House said these investments will serve as a bridge to comprehensive testing investments in the American Rescue Plan — the emergency legislative package announced Jan. 20 by the Biden administration.