HEALTHCARE

HHS Invests $6.5 Million to Expand COVID-19 Testing Capacity

Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, safeguarded the country’s strategic plan for COVID-19 screening as the Department of Health and Person Solutions announced an investment in diagnostic laboratories to expand capability.

Giroir stated reports of lack of tests are being misrepresented using an incorrect story and “analytical shell video games with information.”

“There is a nationwide method, the national strategy is working,” Giroir said during a press briefing today.

The technique is for tactical screening to check those who are ill or are in need of a test, not to have a program of blanket testing for the population.

The latter can lead to an incorrect complacency due to the fact that having an unfavorable test today does not mean an individual will test unfavorable tomorrow, he stated.

Rates of infection are down, Giroir said.

“It is clear that the number of cases is reducing and that decrease is real,” he stated.

Hospitalizations have also decreased. What is lagging, Giroir said, is the death rate, with the deaths being seen today the outcome of infections from four to eight weeks ago.

Turnaround times for outcomes are also not the 10-14 days being reported, he said.

About 80% of test outcomes are returned within three days, however, Giroir said he wanted that down to 24 hours.

“We will continue to concentrate on turn-around,” he said.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The Department of Health and Human being Providers is broadening screening capability through investments in 2 industrial diagnostic laboratories, Aegis Sciences Corporation, and Sonic Health Care USA.

In addition, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences will offer laboratory equipment and Thermo Fisher Scientific will increase staffing and infrastructure to enable the U.S. to carry out an additional one million tests weekly by early October.

The combined investment of $6.5 million will expand the capability to perform approximately four million additional COVID-19 tests monthly.

This suggests that by September, the U.S. will have the capability to do 90 million tests a month if needed, Giroir stated.

Aegis is expected to quickly expand its laboratory workforce and begin construction on a brand-new lab area at its testing facilities in Nashville, Tennessee, to meet its objective of processing more than 60,000 test samples daily start in September.

Sonic Health care U.S.A. is teaming up with HHS to increase their screening capacity at 8 screening centers.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is providing HHS with 56 KingFisher Flex extraction and purification systems and 40 QuantStudio 7 Flex Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Each PCR test can run 384 samples at a time.

These 96 systems – — capable of running more than 140,000 samples each day, in total – — will be placed at Aegis Sciences Corporation labs in Nashville and Sonic Healthcare U.S.A. laboratories around the nation.

THE LARGER PATTERN

Today, the American Medical Association and other companies sent out a letter to HHS that stated testing shortages continue, along with spaces in the supply chain for reagents, swabs, plastics, viral transportation media, and individual defense equipment.

The letter asked the administration to upgrade the testing standards to focus on those with a medically-indicated requirement for a COVID-19 test, including those with signs of the virus, those with known direct exposure, and those in need of pre-procedure screening.

ON THE RECORD

“We are committed to leveraging every possible chance to expand the nation’s SARS-CoV-2 screening capability over the next several months,” Giroir stated by the statement. “For this chance, we had the ability to match offered instrumentation and reagents with industrial laboratories that were ready to right away expand their services. We are honored to work with these laboratories and life sciences tools business to make sure higher access to screening as might be required this fall.”

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