Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) held a call Wednesday with top FDA officials to discuss the approval process for rapid tests. The FDA has said publicly that it thinks rapid tests should be used to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but have only approved one test that doesn’t require a prescription. And at $30/test, it is impractical for at-home screening on a regular basis.
“Since September I have been trying to get answers from the FDA about their approval process for inexpensive, at-home rapid tests,” said Rep Schrier. “These tests need to be in the hands of Americans now. They have the potential to be an instrumental tool in the public health toolbox to get children back into school and our economy reopened. I am disappointed and frustrated that months later, we still don’t have answers.”
The barrier to getting rapid tests into the hands of Americans is two-fold: one, we need to know which tests can best identify positive cases when the person is most contagious, which tends to be two days before symptoms, and two, we need to manufacture and distribute these tests at scale so that every person has access to inexpensive, rapid tests.
Rep. Schrier requested the meeting with the FDA because despite successes in the vaccine roll out, we still need a robust testing strategy to keep this pandemic- and possible future COVID-19 outbreaks- under control. Manufacturers claim that despite evidence their tests demonstrate required specifications and are being used in real world settings around the world to curb the spread of disease, they have not been able to receive authorization from the FDA. Rep. Schrier is committed to locating the bottlenecks across the board and identifying ways to break through and get accurate, inexpensive tests on the market and into the hands of every American.
Rep. Schrier continued, “We are in the middle of the worst public health emergency in a century. We need to be flexible and nimble in our response. And we should be exploring every option at our disposal to expand testing, save lives, and reopen our economy and schools safely. I will continue to seek answers and follow this issue. We know these tests can work at curbing the spread of this disease.”
Earlier this week, Rep. Schrier announced a rapid testing pilot program partnership between Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington school districts. Earlier this month, Reps. Schrier, Bill Foster (IL-11), and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) sent a letter pushing the FDA to do head-to-head testing of rapid antigen tests to determine the most effective tests to then manufacture at-scale. Reps. Schrier, Foster, and DelBene also sent a letter to President Joe Biden in January asking him to use the Defense Production Act to increase the manufacturing of parts for rapid tests. Later that week, President Biden announced that he would be doing that as part of his COVID-19 Executive Orders.
The above is a press release from Rep. Kim Schrier. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content.