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Australia's Ellume gets $230 mln from U.S. to make more rapid COVID-19 tests

Feb 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has awarded $231.8 million to Australian diagnostic test maker Ellume to expand the production of a rapid COVID-19 test that can be bought over the counter and used at home, the Department of Defense said on Monday.

The agency said the funding will help Ellume increase production capacity by 640,000 tests per day by December 2021, adding that the government would procure 8.5 million of the tests. (bit.ly/3rbu6l1)

The self-performed test, which won U.S. emergency use authorization in December, can give results within 15 minutes or less.

Ellume’s COVID-19 tests show roughly 95% accuracy, senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 response team, Andy Slavitt, said during a press briefing on Monday.

Slavitt made the comments as part of the Joe Biden administration’s weekly COVID-19 response briefings on the status of the government’s vaccination and testing efforts.

Since authorizing two vaccines in December, the United States has distributed nearly 50 million doses and administered over 31 million shots.

When asked how a third vaccine’s authorization could help speed up the government’s goal of inoculating most Americans by the end of summer, Slavitt said the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s shot will not likely cause an immediate dramatic shift.

The drugmaker’s commitment to supply 100 million doses of its one-shot vaccine to the government by the end of the second quarter will potentially only be met by the end of that contract period or June-end, he said.

“I would not at this point be overly confident that those doses would come evenly,” Slavitt added. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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