APHL issues recommendations to improve pandemic testing strategy

Jan. 20, 2021

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) issued recommendations to improve testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and for future pandemics, which included actions for the federal government as well as the group’s membership, according to a press release.

In Smart Testing for Optimizing Pandemic Response, APHL identified the following actions to improve the pandemic testing situation:

· Develop and implement a national testing strategy for the SARS-CoV-2 virus

· Address supply chain issues that have led to shortages of testing reagents and supplies

· Monitor the ongoing development and field evaluation of new diagnostic tests

· Perform national surveillance for emerging mutations in the virus and modify the national pandemic mitigation strategy accordingly

To improve pandemic testing in the future, APHL recommends creating a robust national testing framework that includes guidance from public health laboratories to ensure a more orderly and predictable rollout of testing and to provide for an adequate supply chain and workforce. APHL also urges consistent messaging around test plans and setting expectations that are appropriate, realistic and free of political overtone.

As far as the public health laboratories, APHL recommended that they begin evaluating the impact of immunization and offer testing to assess vaccine efficacy and vaccine failure. They also should conduct molecular subtype surveillance to monitor changes in the virus that could affect the ability to detect and control the virus.

With testing in clinical settings now widespread, public health laboratories should resume their typical role and focus much of their testing on protecting at-risk populations and surveillance-based testing, such as undertaking outbreak investigations and monitoring the effectiveness of public health interventions. APHL said.

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