Biden is Pushing to Expand Rapid Covid Testing — Here’s What You Need to Know

at-home rapid covid test

Biden is calling for discounted rapid Covid tests as part of a $2 billion plan. But will it deliver?

At-home coronavirus tests have become increasingly popular as the Delta variant continues to complicate a return to both work and school. But soon there could be a discounted rate as part of President Biden’s new strategy that was announced last week. 

What does Biden’s plan call for?

By invoking the Defense Production Act, Biden aims to make 280 million rapid Covid tests available for vulnerable populations, including those who use long-term care facilities and homeless shelters.

When can Americans expect lower prices?

Walmart, Amazon, and the supermarket chain Kroger are rolling out these tests “at cost”— or 35% less than current retail prices — over the next three months but those on Medicaid can expect to have these costs covered. 

Will this really be more affordable?

Rapid test prices can really vary. But generally, over-the-counter rapid antigen tests, which detect Covid by pinpointing certain proteins, can range from about $20 to $35, while home collection kits can cost as much as $100 or more. Though Biden’s plan hopes to reduce cost by increasing testing supply, regularly taking a Covid test could remain out of reach for most Americans, even with Biden’s discount. 

Is regular testing still critical?

Providing results in about 15 minutes, widespread rapid-test screening — along with vaccination and mask-wearing — is still seen by epidemiologists as an essential tool in controlling outbreaks, especially in schools. Even though infection rates appear to be dropping in older age groups, children now make up more than a quarter of weekly cases nationwide.