NEW YORK ─ The governors of six US states have formed a consortium to secure access to antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that he has joined with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam as part of a bipartisan interstate compact with the Rockefeller Foundation to expand the use of rapid point-of-care antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 and continue safely reopening the states.
"With today’s agreement, the states are in discussions with Becton Dickinson and Quidel ─ the US manufacturers of antigen tests that have already been authorized by the [US Food and Drug Administration] ─ to purchase 500,000 tests per state, for a total of three million tests," Hogan's office said in a statement.
The ramp up of rapid antigen testing aims to detect outbreaks more quickly and expand long-term testing in settings such as schools, workplaces, and nursing homes. Additional states, cities, and local governments may join the compact in the coming days and weeks, Hogan's office said.
Hogan's office subsequently noted that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced his intent to join the alliance and secure 500,000 antigen tests for his state as well.
The interstate cooperative purchasing agreement will provide a platform to purchase tests and associated supplies in "a sustainable and cost-effective manner," Hogan's office said. In addition, the states will coordinate on policies and protocols regarding rapid antigen testing technology, and the Rockefeller Foundation will assist in facilitating financing mechanisms.
"This is not the actual logistics collaboration we have been begging to see for the last several months, but it represents an effort to secure testing in a concerted way and showcases antigen testing," William Blair analyst Brian Weinstein said in a research note on Wednesday. "We have been saying for months now that antigen testing needs to be a critical component to the testing tapestry we are weaving in this country, and believe this endorsement from these states … gives confidence to the ultimate demand that both BD and Quidel (and hopefully others) will benefit from."