Biden Orders Purchase Of 500M Extra COVID Tests To Meet Demand
US President Joe Biden is directing the US government to procure an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests to help meet surging demand across the country amid the spread of the Omicron variant, a White House official told Jeff Mason of Reuters.
Photo Insert: A rapid antigen COVID test kit
The order comes on top of another 500 million tests that the White House pledged would be available to Americans in January. "In addition to the 500 million tests that we are in the process of acquiring, today he is directing his team to procure 500 million more tests – to meet future demand," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Biden has come under criticism for not focusing more on testing earlier as part of his strategy for fighting the pandemic.
A nationwide shortage of tests has plagued the response in recent weeks during the rampant spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. He plans to announce his order for the additional procurement later on Thursday.
The official said the tests would be free for American consumers and that the White House would share more details about their distribution at a later date.
Details about the website that will have information on the first tranche of 500 million tests will be available on Friday, the official said. When the original 500 million tests were announced, experts said the White House's actions were not bold or fast enough to deal with Omicron's spread.