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New Commentary Offers Reforms to Regulations That Hindered Seattle Flu Study Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2

By January 18, 2022No Comments

As the two-year anniversary of the pandemic approaches, a new commentary provides insights into reforming the “labyrinth of conflicting and uncoordinated actions among state and federal regulators” that in early 2020 hampered Seattle researchers from community testing for COVID-19.

The commentary, written by members of the Brotman Baty Institute (BBI), the research collaboration among UW Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children’s, was published recently in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Despite the severity of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron variants, many people are seeking to move on and re-establish life as they knew it before the COVID-19 pandemic,” write the authors. “But public health policy makers cannot move on unless and until a sustainable surveillance system is in place.”

The article chronicles efforts by the Seattle Flu Study, a city-wide platform established by BBI in November of 2018 to conduct surveillance of respiratory pathogens, more than a year before the onset of COVID-19. Its lab was operating in a research capacity, thereby allowing it to collect and test samples for research. But it was not authorized to return results to participants.