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U.S. Gov. Signs $231 Million Contract With At Home COVID Test Manufacturer

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The US Government has approved a $231 million contract with an at-home COVID-19 test manufacturer to scale up production and make the test kits more accessible to Americans. 

The manufacturer, Ellume, was the nation’s first provider of over-the-counter at home tests after being given an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December.

Ellume hopes to revolutionize Covid-19 antigen testing for travelers. If airlines were to formally accept these tests, travelers could pack them in their bags and self administer their test before heading to the airport to return to the United States. 

The urgency for at-home test kits has been stressed by health experts as a method to increase testing while minimizing contact with others. 

The ramp up in over-the-counter test kits also comes after the latest US travel requirements, in which international arrivals are required to provide negative test results. 

mask male traveler airport

Tests Not Accepted By Airlines Yet

The Ellume test kit applies a self-administered rapid-antigen test, which is the test required by the CDC for entrance into the U.S. However, test results may not be accepted by U.S.  airlines yet as they are not provided by a lab. In a phone interview with United Airlines, the airline said they will not accept the home test results. Other airlines would not comment publicly on the tests. 

About the Test Kit

The Australian manufacturer’s test kit allows users to swab themselves and receive relatively quick results, claimed by the Ellume to be ‘in 15 minutes or less’.

Here is how it works: 

  1.  Patient self administers the test using the directions provided.
  2.  Results are transmitted by blue tooth technology to the app.
  3. The app gives provides results in 15 minutes
Ellume test kit
Image: Courtesy of Ellume

The test is one of only three which is currently available to be used by consumers themselves, and is available over-the-counter without a doctor prescription.

Ellume reported it would use the government funds to build a US manufacturing plant, as well as deliver 8.5 million tests for federal use. A timeline for delivery was not specified.

White House Urging Americans to Get Vaccinated

Also during Monday’s White House briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed the significance of Americans getting vaccinated as soon as they can as it becomes available. 

New York hospital Health care workers

Fauci highlighted the impact wide-spread vaccinations will have on public health and safety, as well as by eliminating the emergence of COVID-19 variants. 

In the briefing, Fauci stated:

“{…} viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate. And if you stop their replicating by vaccinating widely and not giving the virus an open playing field to continue to respond to the pressures that you put on it, you will not get mutations. {…} when we talk about efficiently and getting these vaccines out there into people as quickly as we possibly can, not only are you going to prevent individuals from getting disease, not only are you going to protect them from getting infected, but you are going to prevent the emergence of variants here in our country.”

tourist in time square new york during covid

CDC Mask Mandate to Come into Effect

The recent news come as the CDC’s most recent order requiring masks on public transportation and transportation hubs is set to come into effect.

The order requires the wearing of masks for all travelers ‘into, within, or out of the United States’ on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares.

The requirement also extends ‘to travelers in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and seaports; train, bus, and subway stations; and any other areas that provide transportation.’

mask traveler suitcase

The CDC asserts the order is put in place to decrease the risk of transmission across transportation systems. In this regard, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky stated:

“Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across our nation and the world, when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks, the risk of interstate and international transmission can grow quickly.”

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

So when can we get these test? And where can we get them? I am flying in May or June


Monday 1st of February 2021

Covid testing is the cousin of the military industrial complex. Making untold amounts of money. Like never ending war, the people making money off this will not let it end.


Monday 1st of February 2021

Couldnt people just do the test on a (Covid-free) friend if they didnt want it? How do they verify it is your personal sample?


Monday 1st of February 2021

So what happens if you don't have a phone that doesn't work in another country. And as far as the CDC mask mandate that's been going on for months now, they are a little behind.

Stephen White

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Are you serious? What phone doesn't work in other countries? Every phone I've had for the past 10 years has worked all over the world. If you can afford to travel abroad, you've got a smartphone that works everywhere OR has a slot for an exchangeable SIM card which you can buy for $10. This is a no-brainer, dude. And as Kashlee said, Bluetooth doesn't require roaming (I'm sure you could also find a free Wifi hotspot). This comment is a criticism looking for a problem.

Kashlee Kucheran

Monday 1st of February 2021

I believe it uses Bluetooth, therefore no need for roaming