White House moves to quadruple rapid testing supply by December

The White House said Wednesday that the country’s supply of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests is on track to quadruple by December amid a flurry of new announcements.

President Biden announced a $2 billion investment in rapid testing, which can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes, in September, which a White House official said was already on track to double capacity. The Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of a new rapid test from ACON Laboratories on Monday, as well as an additional $1 billion investment being announced Wednesday, will further increase capacity, the official said.

Big picture, some experts say it’s about time: The moves are a burst of activity in an area where many experts have been calling for greater action for more than a year. Some experts have criticized the FDA, saying it has been too cautious and conservative in authorizing new rapid tests.

Joseph Allen, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tweeted Wednesday that rapid testing “will go down as THE epic failure of this pandemic.”

“My question: the utility of rapid tests was so obvious for over a year, why is this just getting attention now?” he added.

The numbers: With the new announcements, the White House official said production of rapid tests will rise from about 30 million per month to 200 million per month starting in December and that the price is expected to fall as well.