NIH to award up to $300M for next-generation COVID tests

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Thursday announced it will provide funding to diagnostic test manufacturers for the development of the next generation of COVID-19 tests, with a focus on improved accessibility.

New programs may award up to $300 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to support the accelerated development of tests and provide regulatory guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, NIH said.

The funding is part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Tech program, an initiative launched on April 29, 2020, to facilitate innovation in the development of COVID-19 tests. The RADx Tech program is managed by The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

According to the NIH, the first tranche of funding would support the development of over-the-counter tests that can be used by people with blindness, low vision, fine motor skill difficulties, and aging-related disabilities. Such tests should be ready for commercialization in 12 to 24 months, it said.

A second tranche would support improving the ease of performance of over-the-counter and point-of-care (POC) tests through the integration of universal design features. Such tests would also focus on minimizing the need for serial testing and maintaining performance against all variants. The NIH said that these products should also be ready for commercialization in 24 to 36 months.

Applications for funding will open on September 20.

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