In a continued effort to improve the availability of COVID-19 tests, the U.S. government is making its third investment in less than two months.
This time, the focus is on shoring up the supply chain of materials needed to make the diagnostic kits and perform the tests including at-home tests.
The Biden administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has awarded about $560 million to companies like Nalge Nunc and OraSure to support manufacturing of supplies like swabs, pipette tips, protective packaging and reagents used to detect the virus in samples.
"Supporting manufacturing of needed products like these will help strengthen the supply chain for COVID-19 tests," the HHS release said.
In the latest infusion, OraSure was awarded $109 million to render a production facility and add a new facility to increase production of rapid at-home tests.
The largest award was given to Nalge Nunc, a subsidiary of Thermo Fisher Scientific, for $192.5 million. The money will go toward manufacturing pipette tips used for COVID-19 sample collection and test processing.
While 11 more companies also received awards ranging from $2 million to $63.8 million to help bolster the testing supply chain, OraSure and Nalge Nunc were the only two test makers to receive over $100 million.
Labcon North America's $59.3 million will also be used to increase production of pipette tips and tubes. Meanwhile, the $63.8 million to Cepheid will help expand production of plastic overmold, an essential material for rapid test kits.
The more than half a billion dollars comes from the American Rescue Plan with the goal to boost manufacturing and increase domestic testing supply.
Earlier this month, the White House directed $1 billion to manufacturers to quadruple the supply of at-home tests by December and increase the number of no-cost testing sites including up to 30,000 pharmacies. The $1 billion was tacked onto the previous $2 billion allotted in September to increase test production and the availability of free testing resources.