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COVID-19: No-Cost Rapid Tests Return, FDA Vaccine Panel to Meet in January

The Biden administration on Dec. 15 again made at-home COVID-⁠19 rapid antigen tests available at no cost. Americans can request up to four tests per residential address, and orders will begin to ship the week of Dec. 19.

The move comes as cases of COVID-19, influenza (flu), and respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) continue to rise, and health leaders fear the numbers will continue to increase as Americans gather with friends and family indoors during the holiday season.

Tests first became available on Jan. 18, but the administration later halted the service on Sept. 2, citing a lack of additional congressional funding to replenish the nation’s test stockpile.

FDA Updates Guidance on At-Home Antigen Tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also updated its guidance on at-home COVID-19 antigen tests, noting that the tests are authorized for repeat testing, also called serial testing.

The agency advises anyone who believes they may have contracted COVID-19 and who receives a negative test result to test themselves multiple times over a certain period. FDA recommends individuals with symptoms test at least twice over three days and individuals without symptoms test at least three times over five days.

The agency states that, while antigen tests are less likely to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 compared with molecular tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and other nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), the tests remain a fast and convenient testing option to detect the virus.

FDA Advisory Panel to Meet In January

The FDA announced that its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Jan. 26, 2023, to discuss the future COVID-19 vaccination regimens, including a long-term strategy beyond responding to new variants and changing threats.

The meeting, held virtually from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm ET, is open to the public.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Andrea Lugo is a communications associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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