LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest AIDS organization, applauds today’s announcement by the Biden administration that it intends to sign Defense Production Act (DPA) contracts with diagnostics companies to accelerate the pace of COVID-19 test production in the U.S.
The DPA grants the president powers to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base that are needed to promote national defense.
“Using the DPA to shore up U.S. COVID-19 testing capacity is a welcome move by the Biden-Harris administration toward bringing the pandemic under control; however, it’s equally important to follow the same approach in strengthening our nation’s genomic sequencing capacity so that we may rapidly detect emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “On an emergency basis, the administration should consider redirecting some of the existing HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) funds to scale up genomic sequencing, while Congress works to fully fund this vital component of virological surveillance. This is absolutely indispensable to the success of the ongoing vaccination and infection control efforts.”
Genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, the technique used to read and interpret the genetic information of the virus that causes COVID-19, is critical to following its spread, developing new vaccines, and understanding how it mutates into more virulent strains that can be resistant to current vaccines.
As of December 2020, among the 18 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S., only 51,212 cases – less than one percent – had been genetically analyzed, whereas the top two nations, Australia and New Zealand had sequenced 58.6% and 48.6% of cases, respectively. With only a fraction of a percent of cases analyzed, the U.S. CDC says new, potentially more virulent strains of SARS-CoV-2, such as those found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, are likely already spreading throughout the country.
The latest announcement on the DPA comes on the heels of a statement issued by AHF on Feb. 1, urging the Biden administration to use the Act to accelerate genomic sequencing efforts.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.