President Biden announced Thursday that the federal government will shell out $2 billion to buy almost 300 million rapid tests for COVID-19 – despite the fact that the tests are woefully inaccurate compared to PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests.
Biden said the rapid tests would be distributed to community health centers, food banks and schools across the US “so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests.”
However, rapid COVID-19 tests — which typically involve a health professional swabbing a person’s nose or throat but also have at-home versions — vary in accuracy depending on the manufacturer and the time when they are taken, with some offering a less than 50 percent chance of a correct diagnosis.
A review of 64 studies published in March of this year found that rapid tests correctly detected COVID-19 in an average of 72 percent of people who displayed symptoms of the virus. In asymptomatic