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US awards $231M contract for at-home virus tests

White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt says the government awarded a $231-million contract to scale up production of a COVID-19 home test that was recently authorized by US regulators.

For months, health experts have stressed the need for fast, widespread home testing so that people can screen themselves and avoid contact with others if they have an infection. But the vast majority of tests still require a nasal swab performed by a health worker that must be processed at high-tech laboratories.

The test kit from Australian manufacturer Ellume allows users to swab themselves at home and check their status in about 20 minutes. It is one of only three tests that consumers can use themselves, and the only one available without a doctor’s prescription.

Ellume says it will use the contract to construct a US manufacturing plant and deliver 8.5 million tests for federal use. It does not specify a timeframe for delivery.

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