The U.S. government has announced that Americans can once again order up to four free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery, starting Monday. This initiative is open to anyone who did not order a batch of tests in the previous round and is designed to help people prepare for potential increases in virus transmission during the winter holiday season. With the flu season beginning and some areas experiencing a spike in RSV cases, this opportunity is especially timely.
The distribution of free COVID-19 tests comes just as cases typically surge during the winter holiday season, with the U.S. Postal Service ensuring free delivery. This initiative is significant as it follows the time when insurers are no longer required to cover their cost, making at-home tests more expensive for individuals who pay around $11 out of pocket. However, federal health officials are emphasizing the importance of immunity from previous vaccinations and infections in helping to limit case counts.
In September, the Food and Drug Administration approved updated COVID-19 vaccines targeting the XBB.1.5 descendant of the omicron variant, aimed at enhancing protection during the winter months when COVID-19 hospitalizations were on the rise but have since remained steady. Vaccinations are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older, but their uptake has been slow. Despite this, U.S taxpayers have invested billions of dollars in developing COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments over three years, underscoring the government’s commitment to combatting the pandemic.
Overall, this initiative from the U.S government is a positive step towards helping Americans stay healthy and safe during these challenging times and preparing for potential increases in virus transmission during the winter holiday season and beyond.