The US government will again offer free at-home Covid tests starting September 25, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported. announced on Wednesday. The kits are planned for use until the end of 2023; As with previous versions of the free testing program, the kits will include four tests along with instructions for checking extended expiration dates.
The government ended its most recent free testing program on May 31 as cases and hospitalizations declined, but hospitalizations have risen steadily since July, according to The New York Times‘ covid tracker.
According to the HHS statement, the White House has invested $600 million in the new round of free kits, which it will purchase from 12 American manufacturers. The department writes that this is enough to cover 200 million over-the-counter tests.
The times reports that if demand increases enough, manufacturers could sell those tests direct to retailers before the goberment. The article notes that, despite their increase, hospitalizations remain low compared to earlier phases of the Covid pandemic, when weekly Covid-related deaths amounted to tens of thousands.
New monovalent formulations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now available following FDA approval earlier this month. The new boosters were made from omic variants of the virus rather than the original strain. Currently, the CDC recommends the vaccine for anyone over six months who has received up to three mRNA injections previously.