HHS and Rockefeller Foundation share best practices for increased COVID-19 testing

Oct. 5, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and The Rockefeller Foundation have signed an agreement to identify and share effective approaches for using rapid point-of-care (POC) antigen tests to screen for COVID-19 in communities, with a focus on safely reopening K-12 schools, stated HHS. 

The partnership establishes a pilot program with select cities and states in The Rockefeller Foundation's Testing Solutions Group (TSG), a network of public officials devoted to rapidly scaling COVID-19 testing, tracing, and tracking in their communities. 

"This pilot program will generate real-world evidence, and identify best practices and lessons learned, as well as metrics on how to effectively integrate testing into school opening and reopening for K-12 students and teachers," said ADM Brett Giroir, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health. "Our collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation will inform states and territories on how to develop their own roadmaps for safely keeping children in the classroom, which is critical for their physical, emotional, mental, and developmental health." 

HHS will provide at least 120,000 Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card POC SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests to pilot sites. The initial pilot cities, selected collaboratively with The Rockefeller Foundation, are Louisville, Ky.; Los Angeles; New Orleans; and Tulsa, Okla. In addition, Rhode Island has been selected as a pilot state. 

BinaxNOW is a unique testing option to provide support to K-12 teachers and students, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities as governors deem fit. The rapid test is easy to use and produces COVID-19 test results in 15 minutes. BinaxNOW is the only antigen rapid POC test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that does not require a laboratory-based instrument to test the samples; instead, negative or positive COVID-19 results are determined through a test card. 

HHS will distribute the tests through its established approach leveraging the logistics expertise of the Department of Defense. The Rockefeller Foundation will help communities define problems, set policy goals, explore options, and craft solutions to help them fight the pandemic in a science-based manner. The pilot program will provide essential information on the policies, practices, and behaviors that public sector entities need to successfully adopt practices that enable communities to be more resilient. 

The POC testing pilot program will also provide data on how testing strategies can be operationalized in laboratories, retail pharmacies, and other community entities. In addition, the partnership will help build the capacity of communities across the United States to better prepare for future pandemics, especially in low-income and vulnerable communities. 

The collaboration between HHS and The Rockefeller Foundation builds upon the national distribution plan for the Abbott BinaxNOW tests to states, which includes sending millions of BinaxNOW rapid tests to all U.S. states and territories over the next few months. The Federal government purchased 150 million Abbott BinaxNOW diagnostic tests on August 27, 2020 – one day after the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization – to ensure that the rapid tests would be distributed expeditiously to priority populations, including vulnerable groups and schools. 

HHS has the release

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