Covid Omicron: Biden buys 500m test kits to tackle surge

US President Joe Biden’s administration is to make 500 million rapid tests for Covid available amid new measures to tackle the surging Omicron variant.

Mr Biden will address the nation later, telling people to protect themselves as the holiday season gets under way.

There will be more vaccines and more support for hospitals, but no need for a lockdown, a senior official said.

Omicron has become the dominant strain in the US, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all new cases.

It was first identified in southern Africa last month but has now spread around the globe.

Although 73% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated against Covid, the administration remains concerned about those who have not had jabs.

The senior official said: “If you are unvaccinated, you are at high risk of getting sick. This variant is highly transmissible and the unvaccinated are eight times more likely to be hospitalised and 14 times more likely to die from Covid.”

The White House said the measures Mr Biden was announcing would “mitigate the impact unvaccinated individuals have on our health care system”.