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Amazon, CVS and Thermo Fisher Scientific unite to expand COVID-19 testing

The alliance plans to serve as a resource for public officials and businesses that want to launch or expand testing programs in their communities.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

A new alliance of U.S. companies has come together to promote employer-based COVID-19 testing as an essential effort in keeping employees and their communities safe during the pandemic.

The coalition is called the Workplace Employers Alliance for COVID-19 Testing, or WE ACT, and its initial members include Amazon, CVS Health and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

WE ACT officials said they believed that to achieve President-elect Joe Biden's goal of establishing regular and reliable testing, employers will need to play a central role in the effort. The alliance plans to serve as a resource for public officials and businesses that want to launch or expand testing programs in their communities.

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It will advocate for a comprehensive national testing strategy that includes clear guidance for testing implementation and results reporting, expanded access to Food and Drug Administration-approved tests, and more resources for data sharing.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Although the average amount of time it takes to receive results from a COVID-19 test has decreased from 4.4 days in March to 2.7 days in September, researchers from Northeastern, Northwestern, Harvard and Rutgers Universities said that's still too slow to support an effective contact tracing strategy – a key method in containing COVID-19.

This issue disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic Americans, where it took 4.4 and 4.1 days to get their test results back, respectively.

COVID-19 testing is important to help get people care sooner and to do contact tracing and alert people if they need to self-isolate, ultimately slowing or stopping the spread of the virus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

THE LARGER TREND

In another effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing, the FDA recently granted emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit provides results within 30 minutes. It has been authorized for home use with self-collected nasal swab samples in individuals 14 and older who are suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider.

The newly passed COVID-19 relief package includes funds to purchase additional vaccines, support distribution, expand testing efforts and more.

ON THE RECORD

"We are coming together to make sure that our essential employees are able to come to work and be tested in an easy and efficient way," said Michael Meehan, senior advisor to WE ACT. "Widespread and convenient testing, especially for those who are asymptomatic, is critical for controlling the pandemic, keeping the U.S. economy open and protecting America's workforce."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org