The Department of Health and Human Services is sending another 30 million Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests to support vulnerable populations, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home health care organizations.
The agency announced the distribution plans Thursday afternoon as part of the federal government’s overall commitment to continue supporting COVID-19 testing efforts through the early portion of next year.
“Over the past year, our successful partnerships with federal agencies, industry, state leaders and state health agencies, have yielded novel, state-of-the-art COVID-19 tests and drastically increased the volume of manufacturing of testing supplies,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, M.D., said in a statement.
“Our work is not done, however. We are taking action to help ensure that states, territories, and specifically nursing homes, which care for our most vulnerable patients, continue to have access to the right tests at the right time well into 2021,” he added.
The federal government in August announced the purchase of 150 million of the tests, with 50 million sent directly to congregate care settings, including nursing homes. An additional 750,000 tests were designated specifically for nursing homes. Shipments of the initial allotment are expected to be completed in Jan. 2021.
Distribution of the additional 30 million tests is slated to be completed by March of next year.
“We plan to supply nursing homes and assisted living on a routine basis, not on a ‘as-needed basis,’” Giroir stated during a media call Thursday. He added that nursing home priority for the tests will continue to be based on county-level positivity rates.
“We don’t plan anything differing. We want to continue to support the most vulnerable until they’re all immunized and we see a clear signal that [COVID-19] is not a problem in that population,” he said.
Giroir has previously stated the BinaxNOW tests have become a favorite among providers.
“Literally, the two most common words [during the call] were ‘game-changer’ and ‘godsend’ for the Binax tests that have been there because they have really revolutionized what they can do in a very quick way,” he said last month.