Available testing, rigorous contact tracing, enhanced laboratory capacity, and data sharing are all critical parts of preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19.
There are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19:
- A viral test tells you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Molecular and antigen tests are types of viral tests. Viral tests are also called diagnostic tests.
- An antibody test tells you if you previously had an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This type of test is also called a serological test.
Making Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tests Safe and Available
HHS continues to safely accelerate the authorizations and availability of COVID-19 tests.
- In February 2020, the HHS Secretary declared that circumstances justified the authorization of emergency use for tests to detect and diagnose coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- Medical countermeasures such as tests, devices, and drugs, may be used to understand and meet public health needs during emergencies.
- Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) allow public health experts to strengthen the nation’s response to public health threats by making medical countermeasures regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) available during emergencies.
- View the full list of tests that have received an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.
- NIH is helping to bring more high-quality, at-home tests onto the market in the U.S. as part of the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative.
Learn more about the testing approval and validation process:
State, territorial, and tribal funding provides support to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and implement related activities.
- CDC will provide $10.25 billion to states, territories, and local jurisdictions.
- The Indian Health Service (IHS) will provide $750 million to tribal health programs (May 19, 2020).
Health center funding supports the expansion of Health Center Program COVID-19 testing capacity including support for the purchase of personal protective equipment, procurement and administration of tests, and laboratory services.
- The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded nearly $2 billion to combat the pandemic and expand COVID-19 testing at health centers, look-alikes (LALs), and rural communities.
- State-level data on health center COVID-19 testing capabilities and metrics are available online and find out if a Health Center testing site is open near you.
Licensed pharmacists may order COVID-19 tests and administer them to their patients, which expands testing capabilities and makes testing more accessible for those who need it.
- The tests must be authorized by the FDA.
- This guidance is issued by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health under the Secretary’s March 17, 2020 declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.
- Guidance for Licensed Pharmacists, COVID-19 Testing, and Immunity under the PREP Act (April 8, 2020)
Rapid, point-of-care testing is a critical element of the national strategy for testing, especially to support vulnerable patients, outbreak investigations, and frontline healthcare workers.
- This test is performed at the same location as where the patient’s sample is collected and it can provide COVID-19 results in under 13 minutes.
- HHS is providing these tests to states, territories, and tribes, as well as to remote and rural populations, nursing homes, hotspot areas, and for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
- FDA Letter of Authorization for ID NOW COVID-19 (March 27, 2020, updated August 27, 2021).