“We didn’t do any advertising,” CEO Hugo Barra said in an interview Friday. He said the company intends to increase production to reduce the cost of testing.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethics specialist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised Mr. Biden during his transition, said the administration should simply buy over-the-counter tests and distribute them to pharmacies where they can be sold at low cost or even given away.
“If you had a centralized procurement from the state, you could greatly reduce the price, which is very important,” he said.
At the moment, the high cost of home tests is a huge obstacle; in some states, including Massachusetts and Colorado, officials distribute them free of charge. However, some consumers have expressed concern about home tests, fearing that they are not as reliable as PCR tests.
“I would be more comfortable leaving this to the professionals rather than myself,” said Fortune Maduba, 23, a Houston grocery store worker who was preparing to travel to Nigeria.
On Friday in Providence, 28-year-old Sylvie Goldstein, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, waited for testing at a government facility outside the Rhode Island Convention Center. Lab staff said the labs were overwhelmed, and Ms Goldstein said she expected to wait 72 hours for results – three times longer than she had to wait in the summer.
“I thought about home tests — they are expensive,” Ms. Goldstein said.
The United States has both the world’s highest per capita test rate and the worst Covid-19 outbreak, according to a report released this month by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The center said the worse the outbreak, the more tests are needed, but experts disagree on what level of testing is sufficient.