President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address on March 1 that another round of at-home rapid tests for COVID-19 will be made available to Americans for free.
That follows his announcement in January that the federal government would distribute 500 million such tests via the postal service.
Some VERIFY viewers received tests from that shipment, and had questions about where they’re made, including Bob, who asked in an email to VERIFY, “Is it true that the COVID test kits are being made in China?”
Did the United States government buy COVID-19 tests that were made in China?
Yes, the U.S. government bought COVID-19 tests that were made in China. Three companies are providing the government with the tests that are being sent to American households, and one of those companies manufactures its tests in China.
WHAT WE FOUND
The U.S. Army allocated $2 billion to help procure some of the 500 million tests promised by Biden. That money went to three companies.
Roche is a Swiss-owned company that partners with SD Biosensor to manufacture its rapid tests. SD Biosensor is a Korean company, and the tests are made in Korea.
Abbott is an American company, and its rapid tests are manufactured in the United States, specifically facilities in Maine and Illinois.
The rest of the money – nearly $1.3 billion – was awarded to iHealth Labs.
It’s evident from pictures of the test on iHealth’s website and from the packaging on the shipped tests themselves that the product is manufactured in China.
In addition, even though iHealth Labs is based in California, it’s a subsidiary of a Chinese company, Andon Health.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged these facts in a briefing on Feb. 2.
“We… needed to meet a need that we had in this country for more tests,” she said. “And a shortage of tests and the understandable demand from people across this country to get tests and make them free and accessible… required us purchasing some of those tests from China in order to meet that demand.”
All of the tests purchased by the government went through the same authorization process.
The FDA gave emergency use authorization to iHealth to make COVID tests – likewise to Roche and Abbott. An EUA is the same thing the FDA gave Pfizer and Moderna for COVID vaccines.
The EUA outlines specific protocols for tracking how safe and effective the tests are, which iHealth and the other companies are required to follow.