December 15, 2020
WASHINGTON - At the weekly Senate Republican leadership press conference today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, welcomed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the first at-home coronavirus test, which was developed with the support of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) RADx initiative. Blunt and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) created the RADx initiative, a Shark-Tank style program to speed up the development of quick, accurate, and affordable coronavirus tests.
Under RADx, NIH, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and private industry are working together to develop new ways to produce tens of millions of COVID-19 diagnostic tests. RADx is currently supporting 22 companies with manufacturing expansion contracts, which are expected to add 1.5 million tests per day by the end of the year.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“On the recovery from the pandemic front, which obviously is going to take some time now before we get there, but the National Institute[s] of Health today announced the first home test to come through the Shark Tank process. It will be producing about 100,000 of those a day in January and 250,000 a day by the end of February, tests could be taken at home.
“I think over 800 applications of various kinds on testing were made at NIH to become partners in the Shark Tank. About two dozen of those have now been in production. Many of them were point of service tests that have been happening at campuses and other places. This is the first at-home test. And so if people work to be sure they continue to be safe while they or others in their house are waiting for the vaccine, that'll be important.
“And on the vaccine front, not only did another good report today from Moderna as we go toward, hopefully, the approval of that later this week. But I was on a conference call last week with the people running that program.
“They were saying 20 million people will have their vaccines done by the end of December and 100 million by the end of March. And I asked specifically the question, ‘do you mean 100 people will have had both shots they need, 100 million by the end of March?’ And the answer was yes, that many people will be through this process, should be able to fully engage in society, at least safely for them and others they’re with.
“And on Friday, the government just bought another 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine that again, hopefully, will be approved this week and will be added to the 100 million that we had previously contracted for.”