The U.S. Departement of Health and Human Services is turning to the new COVID-19 antigen test from Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) as it seeks to boost rapid point-of-care testing.
HHS will buy 2,000 BD Veritor Plus systems and 750,000 SARS-CoV-2 antigen test kits for use in a broad, decentralized network, BD said today. The distribution of the test will start next week.
“The BD Veritor Plus system for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 is the latest point-of-care testing advance that will significantly expand testing in distributed locations for the benefit of all Americans,” said Dr. Brett Giroir, a four-star admiral and assistant secretary for health at HHS “This development will help identify community spread of the virus by further enabling rapid diagnosis of COVID-19.”
HHS said yesterday that it plans to distribute rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments and tests to nursing homes in COVID-19 hotspot geographic areas within the United States. The HHS news release also mentioned Quidel‘s COVID-19 antigen test, which received an emergency use authorization from FDA about two months.
FDA granted an EUA for BD’s antigen test early this month; the company plans to ramp up manufacturing capacity to 2 million tests per week by the end of September.
Antigen tests quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus. FDA has described positive results from antigen tests as highly accurate, but there’s a higher chance of false negatives than the slower polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that look for genetic material from the virus. FDA officials have described antigen tests as “important in the overall response against COVID-19 as they can generally be produced at a lower cost than PCR tests.”