WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A new “test to treat” plan will be a key part of a revamped national strategy to return the country to normal, President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

The new testing initiative would provide Americans with new antiviral medications as soon as they learn they are infected, Biden said during his speech.

The White House has been working on a new COVID-19 response strategy, which unnamed officials told The New York Times would be introduced on Wednesday. The sweeping plan would include developing new vaccines and treatments while coming up with ways to keep schools and businesses open even if new variants surface and surge.

The “test to treat” concept appears to be a centerpiece of the new strategy. Under the program, Biden said, Americans could get tested for COVID-19 at a pharmacy and, if they are positive, “receive antiviral pills on the spot at no cost.” Although the pills, made by Pfizer, have been relatively scarce since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved them late last year, Biden said in his speech that “Pfizer is working overtime to get us one million pills this month and more than double that next month.”

The initiative will also include educating the public about the availability of new antiviral treatments and the importance of taking them as soon as symptoms start, an official told The Times. The federal government will also distribute antiviral pills directly to long-term care facilities.

Furthermore, top federal health officials have been poring over a 136-page blueprint from outside experts whose recommendations include stronger air filtration systems in public buildings, billions of dollars in research, and a major upgrade to the nation’s public health system.

“I cannot promise a new variant won’t come,” Biden said. “But I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does.”

The New York Times Article

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