The announcement is part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative and the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, which will support 32 institutions across the United States and focus on populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nearly $234 million to improve coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing for underserved and vulnerable populations, according to a press release.
The announcement is part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative and the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, which will support 32 institutions across the United States and focus on populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These groups include African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Latinos/Latinas, Native Hawaiians, older adults, pregnant women, and homeless or incarcerated individuals.
“It is critical that all Americans have access to rapid, accurate diagnostics for COVID-19, especially underserved and vulnerable populations who are bearing the brunt of this disease,” said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, NIH director, in a press release. “The RADx-UP program will help us better understand and alleviate the barriers to testing for those most vulnerable and reduce the burden of this disease.”
The program aims to understand COVID-19 testing patterns better among underserved and vulnerable populations, strengthen the data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression and outcomes, and develop strategies to reduce these disparities in COVID-19 testing.
The RADx-UP program has 3 primary components supported by the NIH grants to increase availability, accessibility, and acceptance of testing among underserved and vulnerable populations. These include:
“Long-term community engagement efforts established by these researchers and programs provide an essential mechanism for discovering the factors that lead to COVID-19 related disparities,” said Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, in a press release. “These existing partnerships will serve as the foundation for swift implementation of interventions to promote greater health equity.”
The RADx-UP program will award additional funding, pending availability of funds to address the evolving needs of the pandemic response, integrate new scientific and/or technologic advances such as vaccines, novel therapeutics and new testing approaches, and expand the studies and/or populations being reached in the upcoming months, according to the press release.
NIH to assess and expand COVID-19 testing for undeserved communities. NIH. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-assess-expand-covid-19-testing-underserved-communities. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.