HHS to buy rapid point-of-care coronavirus tests

The tests will be provided to state, territorial, and tribal public health labs.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will buy ID NOW COVID-19 rapid point-of-care tests from Abbott Diagnostics Scarborough Inc., to supply to state, territorial, and tribal public health laboratories, according to a news release.

The tests will provide results for patients in under 13 minutes expanding the capacity in testing for patients showing symptoms as well as physicians and first responders. It will also save the critical personal protective equipment by only needing gloves and a facemask, the release says.

Adding to the convenience, the tests can be performed in a physician’s practice or urgent care clinic.

"Getting rapid tests to state, local and tribal public health departments will give them a new tool to protect key populations, such as healthcare workers, and slow the spread," HHS Secretary Alex Azar says in the release. "Defeating the invisible enemy requires continuously expanding our testing abilities.”

Previously, the FDA gave Abbott emergency use authorization for the tests. At the time, the company said they would ramp up production and were expecting to deliver 50,000 tests per day in the first week of April.

According to the HHS release, the International Reagent Resources, which is operated by the CDC, will procure additional tests every week to support requests from public health labs and test resupply to state labs will be routed through the agency.

 "This type of rapid, point-of-care test is a critical component of our overall national strategy for testing,” Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, says in the release. “It is a special resource that we will prioritize for vulnerable patients whose treatment or isolation require a rapid determination of COVID-19 status, or for outbreak investigations where an immediate result is essential."