U.S. could have capacity of 3 million COVID-19 tests per day, HHS official says

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker uses a swab to test a man at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-in testing location in Houston, Texas, U.S., August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo

(Reuters) – The United States could have a capacity of 3 million coronavirus tests per day this month, and scale up to a high of as much as 135 million tests a month by October, a top health official told a U.S. Congress panel on Wednesday.

Half of the three million tests would be rapid point-of-care tests, said Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average turnaround time for lab-based tests was now about 1.5 days on average, Giroir told the U.S. Senate panel.

Officials also stressed that coronavirus vaccines would not be immediately available to the broader public after regulatory clearance.

It would take around 6 to 9 months for enough people to be vaccinated for effective immunization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Carl O’ Donnell in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta)

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