WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden vows to get younger students back to the classroom by spring, and some health experts look forward to the U.S. refocusing coronavirus tests to rapid home screenings.
Biden is using the Defense Production Act to scale up supplies needed for rapid tests. On Friday, the White House announced six manufacturers will mass produce the tests, with the goal of providing 60 million by the end of the summer.
Some experts say rapid home tests are cheaper, faster, and may improve the chances of identifying sick people during the early days of infection, when they are most contagious.
Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard University testing specialist, calls the rapid tests a “public health screening test.” An estimated 40% of people infected don’t develop symptoms. Mina says rapid tests have the clear advantage over the predominant genetic lab tests, which are more accurate but can take several days for results and allow for the silent spreading of the virus.
Some universities and school systems have used rapid tests to help stay open during the pandemic.
The coronavirus is killing more than 3,000 Americans per day. The nation’s confirmed death toll is nearly 460,000.