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HHS Uses Defense Production Act to Speed Supply of Coronavirus Rapid Antigen Tests to Nursing Homes

NEW YORK — The US Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday that it has used the Defense Production Act to accelerate the acquisition and supply of SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests to nursing homes throughout the US.

According to the HHS, it has applied priority-rated orders for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic supply contracts with Becton Dickinson and Quidel through September. These orders will fulfill a large-volume purchase of diagnostic systems and rapid SARS-CoV-2 assays from the companies, as well as expedite shipment of the products to approximately 14,000 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-certified nursing homes with CLIA certificates of waiver.

"The federal efforts to supply nursing homes with rapid, point-of-care antigen instruments and tests is our highest priority to save lives and the US government will exert its full authority to complete this mission, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said in a statement. "We are invoking the priority rating of the Defense Production Act to expedite shipments of instruments and antigen tests to give nursing homes the ability to perform these rapid tests."

Last month, Quidel announced that it had received an order from the HHS for 2,000 of its Sofia and Sofia 2 instruments and 750,000 Sofia SARS Antigen FIA tests to help detect SARS-CoV-2 in nursing homes. Around the same time, BD said the HHS would purchase 2,000 BD Veritor Plus systems and 750,000 SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen tests.

Quidel and BD were the first two companies to have rapid antigen tests receive Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. LumiraDx's rapid antigen test became the third to receive EUA earlier this week.