- Eight organizations representing U.S. laboratory professionals sent a letter on Wednesday to Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, urging him to address ongoing supply chain obstacles to their performing COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests.
- The lab stakeholder groups, including the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and the Association for Molecular Pathology, called on the Trump administration to better manage the supply chain as labs are continuing to experience difficulty obtaining testing supplies.
- "As the virus surges, states and localities need to increase their testing capacity," the groups wrote to Pence. However, without adequate supplies such as test kits, swabs, transport media and personal protective equipment (PPE), their members "on the front lines" of the public health crisis will continue to struggle to meet the increasing demand for COVID-19 testing and to track its spread nationwide.
It's not the first time lab stakeholders have sounded the alarm about how scaling testing capacity has put pressure on the supply chain for reagents, swabs, PPE and other materials.
The Association for Molecular Pathology in late May published a survey showing more than 70% of U.S. clinical labs had suffered significant delays to COVID-19 testing programs as a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions. At the time, AMP made the case that the Trump administration and commercial producers of reagents and other test supplies need to give laboratories real-time updates on the availability of testing materials.
Now, with the increased demand for molecular diagnostics amid a surge in coronavirus cases, AMP and the other seven lab organizations are requesting the federal government take immediate action to address the supply chain issues which are hamstringing efforts to ramp up testing.
Specifically, the groups have asked Pence for federal assistance in obtaining a list of the names and contact information for individuals in each state who are overseeing the supply chain for testing supplies and PPE.
"It is our understanding that the federal government is working with specific individuals in each state to direct the distribution of federally-allocated laboratory testing supplies and PPE. However, many of our members report they are unable to identify or initiate contact with these individuals," the groups wrote.
Last month, governors from several states demanded better centralized federal procurement and distribution of critical COVID-19 testing supplies, criticizing the lack of coordination from the Trump administration which they charged is hindering the ramp up of testing.
In addition, the lab organizations have requested better "visibility" into the supply allocation process to ensure supplies are being distributed at the state level and are being allocated in a way that most effectively addresses the COVID-19 testing requirements across the country.
"There is a need for laboratories to understand in real-time, resource availability and reagent and supply quantities for planning purposes, and therefore, we request that the federal government take a leading role in increasing transparency about the availability of these materials from both government and commercial manufacturers," the letter says.
The lab groups also asked that the White House Coronavirus Task Force work to ensure that skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, hospital-based laboratories, and regional laboratories have access to testing supplies when requests are made.