COVID-19 revealed stark gaps in the implementation of infectious disease diagnostic and surveillance tools. There remains a striking gap in how these tools come together to garner public trust, identify upticks in circulating viruses, provide clinical information, link individuals to care, and give policymakers the information needed to make decisions and communicate those decisions to the public.
Early last year, the NYC Pandemic Response Institute invited leaders across sectors of society (business, civil society, government, academia) to a day-long workshop to discuss interconnected challenges, formulate potential solutions, and recommend actionable ideas to further the implementation of equitable diagnostic tools. The day’s discussion was split into three rounds, with emerging themes identified in each round.
1. Diagnostic Tests Design and Development.
2. Diagnostic Tests Accessibility and Usability.
3. Diagnostic Tests-Related Data Availability and Security.
Throughout the discussions there were key areas of convergence and divergence identified among stakeholders.
Areas of Convergence
1. Community-based education and information campaigns need to be properly implemented.
2. Community engagement and leadership is a necessary component of diagnostic design and deployment.
3. A standing advisory group should be established that includes representation from all societal sectors to streamline diagnostic processes in times of emergency.
4. Significant innovations that benefit the end user are needed.
Areas of Divergence
1. The role of federal bodies for authoritative central oversight or repositories.
2. Utility of home-based tests and data.
A summary report which we are sharing widely to help spur action in the diagnostics ecosystem provides a summary of key challenges, proposed solutions, and actionable ideas for each of the rounds and can be downloaded here.