HHS Announces National COVID-19 Testing Implementation Forum

COVID-19 testing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new program to capture feedback between federal officials and the private sector. The National Testing Implementation Forum will bring together representatives from key stakeholder groups to share information and provide input to federal leaders about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, testing and diagnostics.

“This is an important initiative to improve collaboration in the advancement of innovation in SARS-CoV-2 testing,” said ADM Brett Giroir, M.D., the assistant secretary for health. “Gaining private sector input is critical bringing novel technologies into widespread use by the public health and commercial sectors.”

The members of the Forum will provide their perspectives on how HHS can best identify and 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, others).

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The Forum will aim to significantly increase public health laboratory capacity, implement a national surveillance strategy using Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and non-CLIA assets. The Forum will seek new techniques and technologies, such as sample pooling and identify any barriers to a streamlined national laboratory testing reporting system and defined reporting standards. The Forum will also work to improve technical assistance across the nation to target testing among the vulnerable and underserved and create a sustainable diagnostics ecosystem that is sustainable and fully capable for future public health challenges.

The Forum is not a federal advisory committee, but it will provide an opportunity for better communications among stakeholders. 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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