Newswise — WASHINGTON – In response to the Senate health committee’s white paper on preparing for future pandemics, AACC sent a letter to committee leadership detailing four key steps the government should take to ready the U.S. for the next outbreak. AACC urges the health committee to address these recommendations in future pandemic legislation, as they are crucial to preventing another public health crisis like the one COVID-19 has caused.
It is clear by now that the U.S. was woefully underprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. Problems such as burdensome and unnecessary testing regulations hindered the country’s initial response to the outbreak and contributed to the pandemic spiraling out of control. And many of these problems, such as testing supply and personal protective equipment shortages, continue to hinder management of the pandemic even now. In order to prevent these issues from impeding the response to future outbreaks, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee has released “Preparing for the Next Pandemic,” a white paper with recommendations for addressing future pandemics based on lessons learned from COVID-19. The white paper is intended to guide Congress toward passing legislation this year that will tackle critical gaps in the U.S. pandemic response, and the Senate health committee is currently soliciting public input on the white paper before finalizing it.
To prevent a repeat of the COVID-19 crisis in the future, AACC’s members—who are clinical laboratory experts on the frontlines of COVID-19 testing—recommend that future pandemic legislation address the following:
- In addition to the interim funding given to CDC through coronavirus relief bills, Congress should provide the funds necessary for CDC to completely rebuild the public health infrastructure the U.S. needs to address both the current outbreak and future health crises.
- Congress should draw on the country’s experience with COVID-19 to determine what types of and amount of medical supplies need to be stockpiled for future outbreaks, and should help create a mechanism for managing these stockpiles at the national level.
- Federal government coordination of the supply chain should be established so that essential medical supplies are distributed in a well-organized and effective manner.
- The duplicative FDA regulatory barrier that initially barred labs from creating in-house tests for the virus (known as laboratory-developed tests) should be permanently eliminated, as these tests are already subject to stringent regulations under CMS.
“AACC greatly appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback on the Senate health committee’s white paper on preparing for the next pandemic,” said AACC President Dr. Carmen L. Wiley. “We also applaud the committee for its proactive approach to planning for the new infectious diseases that are inevitably going to emerge in coming years. Before using this white paper to guide legislation, we now encourage the committee to align it with lab experts’ recommendations, which are vital to addressing the shortcomings in U.S. public health infrastructure that COVID-19 has revealed.”
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.aacc.org.