Plans by several national retail pharmacy chains to expand primary care services and even some clinical laboratory test offerings may be delayed because of financial woes
Times are tough for the nation’s retail pharmacy chains. Rite Aid Corporation, headquartered in Philadelphia, closed 25 stores this year and has now filed for bankruptcy. In a press release, the retail pharmacy company announced it has “initiated a voluntary-court supervised process under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code,” and that it plans to “significantly reduce the company’s debt” and “resolve litigation claims in an equitable manner.”
Rite Aid may eventually close 400 to 500 of its 2,100 stores, Forbes reported.
Meanwhile, other retail pharmacy chains are struggling as well. CVS Health, headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and Walgreens Boots Alliance of Deerfield, Illinois, are each closing hundreds of stores, according to the Daily Mail.
They are each experiencing problems with labor costs, theft, being disintermediated for prescriptions by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and probably building too many stores in most markets.
This is a significant development, in the sense that Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart are each working to open and operate primary care clinics in their stores. This is a way to offset the loss of filling prescriptions, which has migrated to PBMs. Primary care clinics are important to the revenue of local clinical laboratories, but retail pharmacy chains do not yet operate enough primary care clinics in their retail pharmacies to be a major influence on the lab testing marketplace.
“With the support of our lenders, we look forward to strengthening our financial foundation, advancing our transformation initiatives, and accelerating the execution of our turnaround strategy,” said Jeffrey Stein (above), Rite Aid’s CEO/Chief Restructuring Officer, in a press release. Clinical laboratory leaders may want to closely monitor the activities of the retail pharmacies in their areas. (Photo copyright: Rite Aid.)
Multiple Pharmacy Companies at Financial Risk
Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) confirmed it continues to operate its retail and online platforms and has received from lenders $3.45 billion in financing to support the company through the bankruptcy process.
However, according to the Associated Press (AP), Rite Aid has experienced “annual losses for several years” and “faces financial risk from lawsuits over opioid prescriptions,” adding that the company reported total debts of $8.6 billion.
Rite Aid is not the only retail pharmacy brand dealing with unwelcome developments. Fortune reported last year that Walgreens and CVS paid a combined $10 billion to 12 states for “involvement in the opioid epidemic.”
Walgreens intends to close 150 US and 300 United Kingdom locations, its former Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe shared in a third quarter 2023 earnings call transcribed by Motley Fool.
And in a news release, CVS announced plans to close 900 stores between 2022 and 2024.
Pharmacy Companies’ Investment in Primary Care
Though they are experiencing difficulties on the retail side, Walgreens and CVS have significantly invested in primary care.
In that same ebrief, we reported on CVS’ acquisition of Oak Street Health, a Chicago-based primary care company, for $10.6 billion. CVS plans to have more than 300 healthcare centers by 2026.
“We looked at our business, and we said, ‘We’re seeing an aging population.’ We know people don’t have access to primary care. We know that value-based care is where it’s going. We know that there’s been a renaissance in home (care). So that’s kind of how we approached our acquisitions,” Karen Lynch, CVS Chief Executive Officer told Fortune.
Other Challenges to Retail Pharmacies
It could be that these major pharmacy chains are hoping entry into primary care will offset the loss of sales from prescriptions that have migrated to PBM organizations.
In addition to reimbursement challenges, retail pharmacies are reportedly experiencing:
High labor costs,
Competition from online, bricks-and-mortar, and grocery businesses, and
Effects from the work-at-home trend, among other struggles.
“I think there’s a number of challenges which are coming to a head. One, you have ongoing reimbursement pressure. The reimbursement level for drugs continues to decrease, so profit margin on the core part of the business is under pressure,” Rodey Wing, a partner in the health and retail practices of global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney, told Drug Store News.
Additionally, the pharmacy’s drug sales need to be high enough to retain pharmacists, who are difficult to recruit in a post-pandemic market, Drug Store News explained.
And in the retail space where products are displayed, some pharmacies struggle to compete with Amazon on convenience and with “dollar” stores on price. And with more people working from home, retail pharmacies are seeing less foot traffic, Drug Store News noted.
Retail pharmacy companies also have competition from pharmacies conveniently situated in grocery and big-box stores, Forbes reported. These include:
Walmart, for its part, reduced operating hours of pharmacies at more than 4,500 sites, Daily Mail reported.
Thus, medical laboratory leaders would be wise to keep an eye on market changes in their local retail pharmacies. Some locations are equipped with clinical laboratory services and a closure could give local labs an opportunity to reach out to patients and physicians who need access to a new testing provider.
Many clinical laboratory professionals are aware of the significant amount of waste going into landfills from spent COVID-19 rapid PCR tests that use biosensors to produce results. These biosensor systems “use printed circuit boards, or PCBs, the same materials used in computers. PCBs are difficult to recycle and slow to biodegrade, using large amounts of metal, plastic, and non-eco-friendly materials,” according to a Penn Engineering Today blog post.
UPenn’s new test does not use PCBs. Instead, its biosensor uses “bacterial cellulose (BC), an organic compound synthesized from several strains of bacteria,” the blog post noted.
“This new BC test is non-toxic, naturally biodegradable and both inexpensive and scalable to mass production, currently costing less than $4.00 per test to produce. Its cellulose fibers do not require the chemicals used to manufacture paper, and the test is almost entirely biodegradable,” the blog post continued.
“There is a need for biodegradable diagnostic testing,” said Cesar de la Fuente, PhD (above), Presidential Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “We will be continuing to perfect this technology, which could hopefully help many people in the future, while also looking to expand it to other emerging pathogens in anticipation of future pandemics.” Clinical laboratories engaged in SARS-CoV-2 testing during the COVID-19 pandemic can attest to the massive amounts of waste generated by traditional PCR testing. (Photo copyright: University of Pennsylvania.)
Evolution of Improvement for SARS-CoV-2 Diagnostic Assays
De Araujo leads the Portable Chemical Sensors Lab and has been pairing his electrochemistry expertise with de la Fuente’s lab for years, Penn Engineering Today noted.
The team wanted to combine the speed and cost-effectiveness of previous rapid tests with an eco-friendly biodegradable substrate material.
Bacterial cellulose (BC) was a great choice because it “naturally serves as a factory for the production of cellulose, a paper-like substance which can be used as the basis for biosensors,” Penn Engineering Today reported.
Additionally, BC has an excellent track record for a variety of uses, such as regenerative medicine, wound care, and point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, the blog post noted. UPenn’s test offers speed and accuracy without needing costly equipment making it desirable for clinical laboratories preparing to fight the next pandemic.
The test has shown to be capable of “correctly identifying multiple variants in under 10 minutes. This means that the tests won’t require ‘recalibration’ to accurately test for new variants,” Penn Engineering Today added.
Innovation Born from Inspiration
Though rapid tests are essential to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the negatives that come with these tests didn’t sit well with the UPenn team. This spurred them to strive for improvements.
PCR tests “are hampered by waste [metal, plastic, and the aforementioned PCBs]. They require significant time [results can take up to a day or more] as well as specialized equipment and labor, all of which increase costs,” Penn Engineering Today noted.
Additionally, “Sophistication of PCR tests makes them harder to tweak and therefore slower to respond to new variants,” the blog post concluded.
“There’s a tension between these two worlds of innovation and conservation,” de la Fuente told Penn Engineering Today. “When we create new technology, we have a responsibility to think through the consequences for the planet and to find ways to mitigate the environmental impact.”
Need for Biodegradable Diagnostic Tests
“COVID-19 has led to over 6.8 million deaths worldwide and continues to affect millions of people, primarily in low-income countries and communities with low vaccination coverage,” the Cell Reports Physical Science paper noted.
“There is a need for biodegradable diagnostic testing,” de la Fuentes told Penn Engineering Today. “We will be continuing to perfect this technology, which could hopefully help many people in the future, while also looking to expand it to other emerging pathogens in anticipation of future pandemics.”
While UPenn’s test will require clinical trials and FDA approval before it can become available to clinical laboratories and for point-of-care testing, it promises a bright, eco-friendly future for rapid viral testing.
Through their proposal, the AMA has developed principles and recommendations surrounding the benefits and potentially harmful consequences of relying on AI-generated medical advice and content to advance diagnoses.
“We’re trying to look around the corner for our patients to understand the promise and limitations of AI,” said Alexander Ding, MD (above), AMA Trustee and Associate Vice President for Physician Strategy and Medical Affairs at Humana, in a press release. “There is a lot of uncertainty about the direction and regulatory framework for this use of AI that has found its way into the day-to-day practice of medicine.” Clinical laboratory professionals following advances in AI may want to remain informed on the use of generative AI solutions in healthcare. (Photo copyright: American Medical Association.)
In addition to creating human-like text and content, GPTs have the ability to answer questions in a conversational manner. They can analyze language queries and then predict high-quality responses based on their understanding of the language. GPTs can perform this task after being trained with billions of parameters on massive language datasets and then generate long responses, not just the next word in a sequence.
“AI holds the promise of transforming medicine,” said diagnostic and interventional radiologist Alexander Ding, MD, AMA Trustee and Associate Vice President for Physician Strategy and Medical Affairs at Humana, in an AMA press release.
“We don’t want to be chasing technology. Rather, as scientists, we want to use our expertise to structure guidelines, and guardrails to prevent unintended consequences, such as baking in bias and widening disparities, dissemination of incorrect medical advice, or spread of misinformation or disinformation,” he added.
The AMA plans to work with the federal government and other appropriate organizations to advise policymakers on the optimal ways to use AI in healthcare to protect patients from misleading AI-generated data that may or may not be validated, accurate, or relevant.
Advantages and Risks of AI in Medicine
The AMA’s proposal was prompted by AMA-affiliated organizations that stressed concerns about the lack of regulatory oversight for GPTs. They are encouraging healthcare professionals to educate patients about the advantages and risks of AI in medicine.
“AI took a huge leap with large language model tool and generative models, so all of the work that has been done up to this point in terms of regulatory and governance frameworks will have to be treated or at least reviewed with this new lens,” Sha Edathumparampil, Corporate Vice President, Digital and Data, Baptist Health South Florida, told Healthcare Brew.
According to the AMA press release, “the current limitations create potential risks for physicians and patients and should be used with appropriate caution at this time. AI-generated fabrications, errors, or inaccuracies can harm patients, and physicians need to be acutely aware of these risks and added liability before they rely on unregulated machine-learning algorithms and tools.”
According to the AMA press release, the organization will propose state and federal regulations for AI tools at next year’s annual meeting in Chicago.
In a July AMA podcast, AMA’s President, Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, stressed that more must be done through regulation and development to bolster trust in these new technologies.
“There’s a lot of discomfort around the use of these tools among Americans with the idea of AI being used in their own healthcare,” Ehrenfeld said. “There was a 2023 Pew Research Center poll [that said] 60% of Americans would feel uncomfortable if their own healthcare provider relied on AI to do things like diagnose disease or recommend a treatment.”
WHO Issues Cautions about Use of AI in Healthcare
In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement advocating for caution when implementing AI-generated large language GPT models into healthcare.
A current example of such a GPT is ChatGPT, a large language-based model (LLM) that enables users to refine and lead conversations towards a desired length, format, style, level of detail and language. Organizations across industries are now utilizing GPT models for Question and Answer bots for customers, text summarization, and content generation and search features.
“Precipitous adoption of untested systems could lead to errors by healthcare workers, cause harm to patients, erode trust in AI, and thereby undermine (or delay) the potential long-term benefits and uses of such technologies around the world,” commented WHO in the statement.
WHO’s concerns regarding the need for prudence and oversight in the use of AI technologies include:
Data used to train AI may be biased, which could pose risks to health, equity, and inclusiveness.
LLMs generate responses that can appear authoritative and plausible, but which may be completely incorrect or contain serious errors.
LLMs may be trained on data for which consent may not have been given.
LLMs may not be able to protect sensitive data that is provided to an application to generate a response.
LLMs can be misused to generate and disseminate highly convincing disinformation in the form of text, audio, or video that may be difficult for people to differentiate from reliable health content.
Tech Experts Recommended Caution
Generative AI will continue to evolve. Therefore, clinical laboratory professionals may want to keep a keen eye on advances in AI technology and GPTs in healthcare diagnosis.
“While generative AI holds tremendous potential to transform various industries, it also presents significant challenges and risks that should not be ignored,” wrote Edathumparampil in an article he penned for CXOTECH Magazine. “With the right strategy and approach, generative AI can be a powerful tool for innovation and differentiation, helping businesses to stay ahead of the competition and better serve their customers.”
GPT’s may eventually be a boon to healthcare providers, including clinical laboratories, and pathology groups. But for the moment, caution is recommended.
By analyzing strains of the bacterium from a hospital ICU, the scientists learned that most infections were triggered within patients, not from cross-transmission
Tracking the source of Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) has long been centered around the assumption that most HAIs originate from cross-transmission within the hospital or healthcare setting. And prevention measures are costly for hospitals and medical laboratories. However, new research puts a surprising new angle on a different source for some proportion of these infections.
The study suggests that most infections caused by Clostridioides difficile (C. Diff), the bacterium most responsible for HAIs, arise not from cross-transmission in the hospital, but within patients who already carry the bacterium.
A researcher performed whole genome sequencing on 425 strains of the bacterium isolated from the samples and found “very little evidence that the strains of C. diff from one patient to the next were the same, which would imply in-hospital acquisition,” according to a UM news story.
“In fact, there were only six genomically supported transmissions over the study period. Instead, people who were already colonized were at greater risk of transitioning to infection,” UM stated.
Arianna Miles-Jay, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in The Snitkin Lab at the University of Michigan and Manager of the Genomic Analysis Unit at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, performed the genomic sequencing. “By systematically culturing every patient, we thought we could understand how transmission was happening. The surprise was that, based on the genomics, there was very little transmission,” she said in the UM news story.
“Something happened to these patients that we still don’t understand to trigger the transition from C. diff hanging out in the gut to the organism causing diarrhea and the other complications resulting from infection,” said Evan Snitkin, PhD (above), Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Michigan, in a UM news story. Medical laboratories involved in hospital-acquired infection prevention understand the importance of this research and its effect on patient safety. (Photo copyright: University of Michigan.)
Only a Fraction of HAIs Are Through Cross-Transmission
In the study abstract, the researchers wrote that “despite enhanced infection prevention efforts, Clostridioides difficile remains the leading cause of healthcare-associated infections in the United States.”
Citing data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HealthDay reported that “nearly half a million C. diff infections occur in the United States each year. Between 13,000 and 16,000 people die from the bacterium, which causes watery diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. Many of these infections and deaths have been blamed on transmission between hospitalized patients.”
The new study, however, notes that 9.3% of the patients admitted to the ICU carried toxigenic (produces toxins) C. diff, but only 1% acquired it via cross-transmission. The carriers, the study authors wrote, “posed minimal risk to others,” but were 24 times more likely to develop a C. diff infection than non-carriers.
“Our findings suggest that measures in place in the ICU at the time of the study—high rates of compliance with hand hygiene among healthcare personnel, routine environmental disinfection with an agent active against C. diff, and single patient rooms —were effective in preventing C. diff transmission,” Snitkin told HealthDay. “This indicates that to make further progress in protecting patients from developing C. diff infections will require improving our understanding of the triggers that lead patients asymptomatically carrying C. diff to transition to having infections.”
Recognizing Risk Factors
Despite the finding that infections were largely triggered within the patients, the researchers still emphasized the importance of taking measures to prevent hospital-acquired infections.
“In fact, the measures in place in the Rush ICU at the time of the study—high rates of compliance with hand hygiene among healthcare personnel, routine environmental disinfection with an agent active against C. diff, and single patient rooms—were likely responsible for the low transmission rate,” the UM news story noted.
One expert not involved with the study suggested that hospitals’ use of antibiotics may be a factor in causing C. diff carriers to develop infections.
“These findings suggest that while we should continue our current infection prevention strategies, attention should also be given to identifying the individuals who are asymptomatic carriers and finding ways to reduce their risk of developing an infection, like carefully optimizing antibiotic usage and recognizing other risk factors,” Hannah Newman, Senior Director of Infection Prevention at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.
Snitkin, however, told HealthDay that other factors are likely at play. “There is support for antibiotic disruption of the microbiota being one type of trigger event, but there is certainly more to it than that, as not every patient who carries C. diff and receives antibiotics will develop an infection.”
Another expert not involved with the study told HealthDay that “many patients are already colonized,” especially older ones or those who have been previously hospitalized.
“A lot of their normal flora in their GI tract can be altered either through surgery or antibiotics or some other mechanism, and then symptoms occur, and that’s when they are treated with antibiotics,” said Donna Armellino, RN, Senior VP of Infection Prevention at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York.
This research also demonstrates the value of faster, cheaper, more accurate gene sequencing for researching life-threatening conditions. Microbiologists, Clinical laboratory scientists, and pathologists will want monitor further developments involving these findings as researchers from University of Michigan and Rush University Medical Center continue to learn more about the source of C. diff infections.
Clinical laboratories and pathologists should expect to receive increase referrals from oncologists with younger patients
More people are getting serious cases of cancer at younger and younger ages. So much so that some anatomic pathologists and epidemiologists are using the term “Turbo Cancers” to describe “the recent emergence of aggressive cancers that grow very quickly,” Vigilant News reported.
Cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death in the United States and current trends of the disease appearing in younger populations are causing alarm among medical professionals and scientists.
It’s anatomic pathologists who receive the biopsies and analyze them to diagnose the cancer. Thus, they are on the front lines of seeing an increased number of biopsies for younger patients showing up with the types of cancers that normally take many years to grow large enough to be discovered by imaging and lumps leading to biopsy and diagnosis. It’s a medical mystery that may have long term effects on younger populations.
“What clinicians have been seeing is very strange things,” said Harvey Risch, MD, PhD (above), Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, in an Epoch TV interview. “For example, 25-year-olds with colon cancer, who don’t have family histories of the disease—that’s basically impossible along the known paradigm for how colon cancer works—and other long-latency cancers that they’re seeing in very young people.” Epidemiologists and anatomic pathologists are describing these conditions as “turbo cancers.” (Photo copyright: Yale University.)
Early-Onset Cancer Rates Jump Sharply
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3.3 million Americans died in 2022, and 607,800 of those deaths were attributed to cancer. This statistic translates to approximately 18.4% of US deaths being due to cancer last year.
The largest increase in cancer diagnoses occurred in people in the 30 to 39-year-old age group. This number represents a jump of almost 20% for the years analyzed for individuals in that demographic. The researchers also found that cancer rates decreased in individuals over the age of 50.
Breast cancer, which increased by about 8% in younger people, accounted for the most diagnoses in this age group. However, the biggest increase was 15% for gastrointestinal cancers, including colon, appendix, bile duct, and pancreatic cancer.
Because cancer can recur or progress, researchers have concerns about what happens to young cancer patients as they grow older and what effect cancer may have on their lives.
“They are at a transitional stage in life,” Chun Chao, PhD, Research Scientist, Division of Epidemiologic Research at Kaiser Permanente, told The Hill. “If you think about it, this is the age when people are trying to establish their independence. Some people are finishing up their education. People are trying to get their first job, just start to establish their career. And people are starting new families and starting to have kids. So, at this particular age, having a cancer diagnosis can be a huge disruption to these goals.”
“The increase in early-onset cancers is likely associated with the increasing incidence of obesity as well as changes in environmental exposures, such as smoke and gasoline, sleep patterns, physical activity, microbiota, and transient exposure to carcinogenic compounds,” according to the JAMA study.
“Suspected risk factors may involve increasing obesity among children and young adults; also the drastic change in our diet, like increasing consumption of sugar, sweetened beverages, and high fat,” Hyuna Sung, PhD, Cancer Surveillance Researcher at the American Cancer Society, told US News and World Report. “The increase in cancers among young adults has significant implications. It is something we need to consider as a bellwether for future trends.”
“Increased efforts are required to combat the risk factors for early-onset cancer, such as obesity, heavy alcohol consumption, and smoking,” said Daniel Huang, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, one of the authors of the study, in the US News and World Report interview.
Other studies also have shown a rise in so-called turbo cancers.
“Cancer as a disease takes a long time to manifest itself from when it starts. From the first cells that go haywire until they grow to be large enough to be diagnosed, or to be symptomatic, can take anywhere from two or three years for the blood cancers—like leukemias and lymphomas—to five years for lung cancer, to 20 years for bladder cancer, or 30 to 35 years for colon cancer, and so on,” Risch told the Epoch Times.
Not the Occurrence Oncologists Expect
“Some of these cancers are so aggressive that between the time that they’re first seen and when they come back for treatment after a few weeks, they’ve grown dramatically compared to what oncologists would have expected,” Risch continued. “This is just not the normal occurrence of how cancer works.”
Risch believes that damage to the immune system is the most likely cause of the rise in turbo cancers. He said the immune system usually recognizes, manages, and disables cancer cells so they cannot progress. However, when the immune system is impaired, cancer cells can multiply to the point where the immune system cannot cope with the number of bad cells.
It is a statistical fact that more people are being diagnosed with serious cases of cancer at younger and younger ages. If this trend continues, clinical laboratories and pathologists can expect to see more oncology case referrals and perform more cancer diagnostic tests for younger patients.
Federal officials want to head off “supply chain issues” that developed in the past with reliance on tests made overseas, and to address a possible COVID-19 surge during the fall and winter, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
In fact, 500 million tests have already been distributed through US government channels to long-term care facilities, schools, and low-income senior housing.
“Manufacturing COVID-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our reliance on other countries, and provides good jobs to hardworking Americans,” said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, JD (above), in an HHS news release. “ASPR’s investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase availability of tests in the future.” With the federal government preparing for what it expects to be a surge in demand for COVID-19 testing, clinical laboratories may want to track the CDC’s weekly reports on the number of positive COVID-19 cases as this year’s influenza season progresses. (Photo copyright: Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.)
In Vitro Diagnostics Test Makers Get Government Gigs
This is not the first time federal officials sent out free COVID-19 tests to consumers. According to the AP, more than 755 million tests went out to US households in previous efforts to fight the spread of infections. But unlike those tests, these tests will be manufactured entirely within the US.
The government’s latest wave of free tests is meant to “complement ASPR’s ongoing distribution of free COVID-19 tests to long-term care facilities, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals, and underserved communities, with 500 million tests provided to date through these channels,” the HHS news release noted.
Both large and lesser-known in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturers were selected by the federal government to receive funding. They include:
HHS advises people to take the test at the first sign of symptoms (fever, sore throat, runny nose, others), after coming into contact someone who has COVID-19, or prior to gathering with a group, as a preventative to spread of the coronavirus.
“Even with a lot of mutations, there are a lot of spots in the virus that can be recognized by our immune system, and there are many shared mutations as well. There will be some protection from new vaccine booster as well as prior infections,” Rajendram Rajnarayanan, PhD, Assistant Dean of Research and Associate Professor, Basic Sciences, Arkansas State University, told Verywell Health.
It’s worth noting that the common cold, influenza, SARS, and SARS-CoV-2 are all in the coronavirus family, and thus closely related with similar symptoms. It would not be a surprise that SARS-CoV-2 joins those other viruses as an endemic virus with a similar yearly cycle of infection rates.
If that happens, and no surge in infections appears that would motivate orders for the new COVID-19 at-home tests, the government may find itself with a lot of unused tests at the end of the year. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware of this possibility and provides a website where people can check to see if their test has an extended expiration date.
Plus, folks who are tired of the pandemic may not respond at all to the government’s insistence to prepare for possible surges in infection rates.
“Whether or not people are done with it, we know the virus is there, we know that it’s circulating. We know, if past is prologue, it’ll circulate to a higher degree and spread, and cases will go up in the fall and winter seasons,” said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, JD, in the HHS new release. “Anticipating that that would be true again, or something similar, we want to make sure the American people have these tools.”
Clinical laboratories may want to prepare as well. Many people are not comfortable with at-home self-testing and prefer to have their local medical labs perform the tests.