Opinion

The Time Is Now for a Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Registry

By Scott Whitaker
July 29, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Has a second wave of COVID-19 already begun? Or are we still in the middle of the first wave exacerbated by opening up the economy too soon? Or is the uptick in hospitalizations the result of patients resuming the much-needed care they were forced put on pause as a result of the pandemic? Or is it a combination?

As public health experts grapple with the answers, and our economy buckles under the weight of months spent in various phases of lockdown, as many return to lockdown status, and as school systems across the nation try to determine how best to resume school in the fall, there’s one thing on which the experts agree: It is absolutely vital to our nation’s health and economic recovery that we are capable of testing everyone who needs it, and, just as important, that we know manufacturers will continue their massive mobilization effort to send testing supplies where they are most needed.

That is why in recent weeks, AdvaMed and 13 diagnostic test companies – representing 95 percent of the testing market – have worked to establish a comprehensive, national testing supply registry to help the federal and state governments in their pandemic responses.

This AdvaMed COVID Testing Supply Registry will be a crucial tool for these federal and state authorities as they work to support patient care and protect public health in communities across the country.

The registry gathers and analyzes information from these diagnostic companies, along with publicly available data on daily tests performed, to create a centralized, standardized, and “living” picture of our COVID-19 diagnostic supply. Our registry will provide weekly state- and national-level updates on the number of molecular, serology (antibody), and antigen tests shipped in the United States.

This registry will create a deeper understanding of the supply of COVID tests, with the aim of bolstering coordination across a wide set of public and private sector entities working to increase testing availability. It is a key step in identifying, addressing, and unlocking any challenges to the continued growth in U.S. testing.

The registry’s latest dataset shows that since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately 80 million tests have been manufactured and shipped nationwide, with daily test shipments growing from 350,000 in early April to now above 1 million shipped per day as of July 22.

Recently, a group of Harvard scientists determined that in order to gain control of the virus, a nation needs to test at least 1,500 per 1 million residents, and we know that as of this week, the U.S. is testing well above 2,000 per 1 million residents.

The diagnostic companies that produce these tests and the health care providers and laboratories that run them have mobilized in never-before-seen ways and made herculean strides to save people’s lives and slow the spread of COVID-19.

But there is still far more to be done to beat this virus, and our companies won’t stop until we do.

Already, industry and government have accomplished so much together in the fight against COVID-19.

With the leadership of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir and Food and Drug Adminstration Commissioner Stephen Hahn — and through the FDA’s efficient authorization process — more than 150 commercial tests have been authorized and more than 50 million have been administered across the nation.

The medical technology industry and the companies that make the supplies necessary to beat COVID-19 have been working closely with the White House, HHS, FDA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other key government agencies to ensure the continued supply of diagnostics tests, as well as other vital medical equipment such as PPE and ventilators, in the fight against this pandemic.

If the road to recovery goes through testing, we believe this registry provides the map. We stand ready to partner with all health care providers, laboratories and other key stakeholders in the testing ecosystem to collaborate in any and every way we possibly can to win this fight.

Scott Whitaker is the president and CEO of AdvaMed.

Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.

Correction: A previous version of this piece’s headline misstated the name of the disease due to an editing error.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!