07.31.20

Alexander: NIH “Shark Tank” is Doing in Months What Usually Takes Three to Seven Years

Says tens of millions of new diagnostic tests with quick results are key to containing the virus and building confidence to go back to school, back to work and out to eat

“This is the surest path toward normalcy until we have a vaccine. Thanks to NIH’s ‘Shark Tank,’ scientists are transforming COVID-19 testing by fast tracking new technologies with a goal of producing tens of millions more diagnostic tests this fall that can deliver results in minutes, instead of waiting days for a laboratory to send a result.” — Senator Lamar Alexander

 

MARYVILLE, Tennessee, July 31, 2020 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the “Shark Tank” initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is “doing in months what usually takes three to seven years,” after the NIH announced funding for seven new COVID-19 diagnostic testing methods.

“Tens of millions of new diagnostic tests with quick results are key to containing the virus and building confidence to go back to school, back to work and out to eat,” Alexander said. “This is the surest path toward normalcy until we have a vaccine. Thanks to NIH’s ‘Shark Tank,’ scientists are transforming COVID-19 testing by fast tracking new technologies with a goal of producing tens of millions more diagnostic tests this fall that can deliver results in minutes, instead of waiting days for a laboratory to send a result.”

“I commend Dr. Francis Collins and the scientists and engineers at NIH and other agencies for today’s announcement of additional, rapid, point-of-care and lab-based tests—some using hand-held technologies. I am looking forward to their continued success in getting more tests to schools, colleges, nursing homes, hospitals, and states to contain the virus.”

Alexander and Senate health appropriations committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) led an effort in April to pass $1.5 billion in funding for the competitive “Shark Tank” at NIH so it could work in coordination with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the private sector to pull out all stops and fast track new technologies designed to produce tens of millions of tests. Their legislation allocated another $1 billion to BARDA to work with NIH to accelerate production of these tests.

 

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