US government’s COVID-19 website to suspend free at-home tests
The federal government’s COVID-19 website will stop offering free at-home COVID-19 tests for Americans on Sept. 2.
"Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests," the website says.
President Joe Biden committed in January to making 1 billion tests available to the public free of charge, including 500 million available through covidtests.gov. For months, the administration said not enough people were taking advantage of the free tests, but the supply has since run low.
The U.S., which has the highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, is averaging nearly 89,000 new COVID cases, 5,300 new hospitalizations and 392 deaths daily, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of coronavirus deaths reported worldwide fell by 15% in the past week while new infections dropped by 9%, according to the World Health Organization.
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WHO said the predominant COVID-19 variant worldwide is omicron subvariant BA.5, which accounts for more than 70% of virus sequences shared with the world's biggest public viral database. Omicron variants account for 99% of all sequences reported in the last month.
Earlier this week, Pfizer asked U.S. regulators to authorize its combination COVID-19 vaccine that adds protection against the newest omicron relatives, BA.4 and BA.5, a key step towards opening a fall booster campaign.
The Food and Drug Administration had ordered vaccine makers to tweak their shots to target BA.4 and BA.5, which are better than ever at dodging immunity from earlier vaccination or infection.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.