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US DoD, HHS Extend Partnership to Combat SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic

NEW YORK — The US Department of Defense on Wednesday said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the US Department of Health and Human Services under which the agencies will continue collaborating over the next two years to address the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and future public health emergencies in the US.

As part of their alliance, the DoD said it recently awarded $650 million to Eurofins subsidiary Clinical Enterprise, PerkinElmer, and Battelle Memorial Institute to expand COVID-19 testing for elementary schools, underserved populations, and congregate settings such as homeless shelters.

The DoD said the MOU establishes a framework under which it will continue to support HHS with acquisition efforts to expand domestic industrial capacity of health and medical resources, procure diagnostics and medical supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile, and accelerate the development, manufacture, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Specifically, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, through the Defense Assisted Acquisition Cell, will review assisted acquisition requests from HHS, determine which acquisition authorities and resources are best suited to support the efforts, and execute agreements with industry to fulfill the defined requirements, the DoD said.

The MOU will remain in effect until at least Sept. 30, 2023.

The DoD said it has handled over $26 billion in funding on behalf of the HHS including a $231.8 million contract with Ellume for an at-home SARS-CoV-2 test.

In a separate statement, Clinical Enterprise said it will test up to 24.6 million people in the Northeast and South regions of the US as part of the agreement. Its testing program is based on pooled surveillance testing using PCR technology, and Eurofins will partner with Affinity Empowering for the testing agreement. Affinity provides occupational, behavioral, and direct-to-consumer health services. 

Eurofins noted 187 vendors competed for the DoD/HHS testing agreement.