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HHS Launches Public, Private Forum to Improve Coronavirus Testing

NEW YORK — The US Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday that it has launched an initiative to gather information on SARS-CoV-2 testing and diagnostics from federal officials and the private sector.

The National Testing Implementation Forum aims to leverage input from its members to increase public health laboratory capacity and implement a national surveillance strategy using Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and non-CLIA assets, the HHS said. Areas of interest include supply chain issues, optimal SARS-CoV-2 testing strategies in various settings, new diagnostic technologies and techniques such as sample pooling, barriers to implementing a streamlined national lab testing reporting system, and reporting standards.

The HHS said the forum will also work to facilitate testing among vulnerable and underserved populations and to create a sustainable diagnostics framework to address future public health threats.

The forum will be led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and include representatives from private sector stakeholders, as well as various governmental organizations including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The HHS said that forum members will rotate to ensure diverse input.

"This is an important initiative to improve collaboration in the advancement of innovation in SARS-CoV-2 testing," HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said in a statement. "Gaining private sector input is critical bringing novel technologies into widespread use by the public health and commercial sectors."