Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to request a briefing and a written response on how data from NIH-supported studies can be used to maximize effectiveness of different COVID-19 testing technologies in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure all states can open and operate safely.
“The NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative supports studies to generate data and insights that could help inform how to best use COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance testing for people who are pre-symptomatic, symptomatic, and asymptomatic. As efforts are being made to manage the pandemic response with the re-opening of schools, houses of worship, and workplaces, the U.S. needs to leverage every test and every modality,” wrote Walden, Guthrie, and Burgess.
There are multiple ongoing NIH RADx-supported efforts that could be used to help determine the best utility of the different types of testing available. For example, research through the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program examines testing patterns of populations being disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 in order to figure out the best way to reduce disparities in both COVID-19 testing and health outcomes of underserved and vulnerable communities. Another initiative supports infrastructure to detect asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 on college campuses.
“The U.S. has amassed a significant amount of testing capacity. Containing the virus and reopening the economy depend on how we effectively use our testing capacity,” continued Walden, Guthrie, and Burgess.
This builds upon the committee’s work on and oversight of ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, including COVID-19 testing capacity. In June, E&C Republicans released the first pillar of the three-part Second Wave Preparedness Project, which detailed testing and surveillance recommendations. This month, E&C Republicans requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to provide a technology assessment of COVID-19 contact tracing apps.
Click HERE to read the letter to NIH.