HHS launches COVID-19 testing implementation forum

July 22, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a forum to bring together representatives from stakeholder groups to provide input to the department about SARS-CoV-2 testing and diagnostics, according to a press release.

The National Testing Implementation Forum, which is not an official federal advisory committee, will provide an opportunity for better communications among stakeholders, HHS said. The members will provide their perspectives about how HHS can best address end-to-end testing supply chain issues across commercial, public health, academic, and other sectors and define optimal testing in various settings (diagnostic, screening, surveillance,and  others).

The forum’s goal is to increase public health laboratory capacity and implement a national surveillance strategy using Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and non-CLIA assets. The forum will seek out new techniques and technologies, such as sample pooling, and identify barriers to a streamlined national laboratory testing reporting system and defined reporting standards. The forum will also work to improve technical assistance to target testing among the vulnerable and underserved populations.

HHS said forum participation will rotate to ensure diverse input. Federal participants will be led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and include rotations from stakeholder groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and others.

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