The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced a $1.5bn initiative to rapidly develop Covid-19 diagnostics, in an effort to deploy millions of tests a week by late summer.

Researchers across the country developing rapid Covid-19 testing technology will now be able to compete for a share of the money, which has been earmarked for diagnostic development. Successful entrants will be paired up with manufacturers and businesses who can scale the production of tests developed during the project.

NIH director Francis Collins said: “We need all innovators, from the basement to the boardroom, to come together to advance diagnostic technologies, no matter where they are in development.

“Now is the time for that unmatched American ingenuity to bring the best and most innovative technologies forward to make testing for Covid-19 widely available.”