Infectious Disease

The stimulus package deal consists of $ 47.eight billion for superior COVID-19 testing

March 04, 2021

2 min read

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Disclosure:
Hayden reports that he is a lecturer and panelist for Amita Health, a CDC research fellow, and a board member of the Society for Health Care Epidemiology of America. Humphries reports consultancy fees from Accelerate Diagnostics and Thermofisher Diagnostics.

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The $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package that Parliament passed and sent to the Senate last weekend includes $ 47.8 billion to expand testing, contact tracing and other measures to fight COVID-19.

The earmarked funds from the American rescue plan would be used to “carry out activities to detect, diagnose, track and monitor SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 infections and related strategies to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the text of the Invoice. Another $ 1.75 billion would be used to “strengthen and expand activities and workforce related to genome sequencing, analytics and disease surveillance.”

American rescue plan graphic

Source: The White House. Fact Sheet: President Biden announces new measures to expand and improve COVID-19 testing. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/02/17/fact-sheet-president-biden-announces-new-actions-to-expand-and-improve-covid-19- testing/. Accessed March 3, 2021.

In an editorial recently published on the Open Forum Infectious Diseases, experts highlighted the importance of different testing strategies for COVID-19, even as the vaccine rollout continues, and described scenarios where testing would be beneficial.

“As the pandemic progresses, the dynamics of the scenarios described here are likely to change – especially as disease rates change and vaccination efforts advance.” Romney M. Humphries, PhD, D (ABMM), M (ASCP), Medical Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Mary K. Hayden, MD, FIDSA, Head of the Infectious Diseases Division and Director of the Clinical Microbiology Division at Rush University Medical Center, and colleagues wrote.

“Nonetheless,” she continued, “the guiding principle of using tests as an important part of a comprehensive management program remains.”

During a press conference for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Humphries said that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to testing and that a person’s risk of infection prior to testing, the type of test used, and how the results are evaluated all factor into a test’s effectiveness.

“Testing is not a stand-alone strategy, but part of a diverse approach to containing the spread of COVID-19,” said Humphries. “This multi-faceted approach needs to include not just testing, but vaccinations, social distancing, wearing masks, hand washing and other mitigating factors.”

Speaking at the press conference, Hayden said the limited “bandwidth” of health authorities posed a challenge to testing efforts, as resources originally devoted to testing are now being used for vaccination. She also said that because of the potential threat of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, testing would continue to be required for people who were previously infected and who show symptoms again. She also said that public awareness of testing and interpreting test results has increased due to the pandemic.

Humphries said a “tremendous amount” has been learned about supply chain testing due to disruptions from COVID-19 and discussed how to address reliance on foreign manufacturing for materials and testing of deliveries.

“The solution has to take a step back and see how we can improve the infrastructure, because with test manufacturing today, it’s just not possible to squeeze resources into one area or another,” said Humphries.

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