(NewsNation Now) — As cases caused by the omicron variant continue to spread, the race is on to deliver at-home COVID-19 tests around the country. And the factories making those tests are beyond busy.
At the factory where popular home test On/Go is made, the production line with hundreds of workers never stops.
“It is amazingly busy,” said Ron Gutman, co-CEO of Intrivo. The company sells the home tests to retail stores and the federal government. “We are literally working around the clock to fulfill the unprecedented demand.”
That demand comes as the Biden administration announced this week it would send four COVID-19 home tests to every household in America.
“Should we have done more testing earlier? Yes, but we’re doing more now,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday, recapping his first year in office.
But experts say while the plan to distribute 1 billion tests is a good first step, it must become a regular part of the pandemic response. In the same way that the government has made vaccines free and plentiful, it must use its purchasing power to assure a steady test supply, they say.
Getting a booster shot brings a person back up to 90% efficacy against hospitalizations due to COVID-19, according to CDC data released today. Yet overall, vaccines are less protective against omicron, experts say. That leaves many Americans falling back on testing to ensure they don’t spread COVID-19.
And that puts Intrivo, which is based in Miami, Florida, at a distinct competitive advantage. Many other home tests are made in China. Because Invitro’s tests are made in the U.S., the company avoids many of the supply chain issues overseas and at home.
“One of the most important things people ask from us all the time is speed,” Gutman said. “They want their tests immediately. So we wanted to be close to people and have credibility.”
Intrivo is shipping out millions of tests. Even though omicron seems to have peaked, they are still spending big money ramping up production — not just for this surge, but for ones in the future.
“We need to prepare for the next wave of the outbreak,” Gutman said. “In our minds, with our resources right now, (we’re) directing to 2023 and 2024 to make sure we catch this virus and stay ahead of it before it arrives.
“It is not just identifying these variants when they arrive,” he said, “it is, ‘What is the quick intervention we can do before it starts mushrooming?’”