What you need to know
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has led a national COVID-19 Test to Treat initiative since March 2022, with thousands of locations nationwide where people can get treatment.
Now NIH has launched the Home Test to Treat initiative, a telehealth pilot program that will partner with health departments in high-risk communities. The program is being tested in one county and could expand to other areas if successful.
The initiative is a part of Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech, an initiative supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. RADx Tech seeks to speed up the development and distribution of effective COVID-19 tests used in homes and in clinical settings.
What did the researchers do?
In January, Home Test to Treat launched in Berks County, Pennsylvania, to provide services for up to 8,000 eligible participants. Researchers have set up a virtual community that gives people access to COVID-19 tests and treatments at no cost.
People interested in the program first sign up at a website called eMed. This website allows participants to report COVID-19 symptoms, schedule telehealth appointments, and order at-home tests or antiviral treatments. Participants can also visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) centers for in-person testing.
Research teams in the community will work with local health departments to make sure participants are receiving the care they request. The teams will also measure how successful the program is at treating COVID-19 and reducing its spread. This data will be analyzed in collaboration with researchers from the UMass Chan Medical School.
Why is this research important?
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing has been critical to controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Home Test to Treat is designed to make care more accessible for those who may be at higher risk for severe COVID-19 and who may not be able to easily access treatment.
If the Pennsylvania pilot program is a success, Home Test to Treat can expand to additional communities across the United States based on need, access to health care treatments, expected COVID-19 infection rates, and other socioeconomic factors. The goal is to help sick people get tested and treated for COVID-19 without spreading it into their communities.
Where can I go to learn more?
NIH shares more information about the Home Test to Treat initiative in a recent news release.
RADx Tech is one of several RADx programs meant to speed innovation in the development, commercialization, and accessibility of COVID-19 testing technologies.
The test-to-stay strategy keeps kids who have been exposed to COVID-19 in school unless they test positive or develop symptoms, leading to fewer missed school days.
White House. (2022, September 8). Fact sheet: Biden administration outlines plan to get Americans an updated COVID-19 vaccine shot and manage COVID-19 this fall. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/09/08/fact-sheet-biden-administration-outlines-plan-to-get-americans-an-updated-covid-19-vaccine-shot-and-manage-covid-19-this-fall
NIH COVID-19 Resources by Topic
COVID-19 research information and resources by topic from NIH institutes and centers