To speed the development of diagnostic tests for Zika virus infection, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) will support the collection of blood samples from people in the continental United States and Puerto Rico who have been infected with Zika virus, the agency announced on Wednesday.

Under a six-month, $692,000 project funded by ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Clinical Research Management Inc. of Hinckley, Ohio, will collect blood samples from people who have had confirmed Zika virus infection, in coordination with state and local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These samples will be collected and made available to diagnostic companies for use in validating the performance of their tests.

“Accurate diagnostic tools are vital for health care providers and their patients to determine whether people have been infected with Zika, especially pregnant women and their partners,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, acting director of BARDA. “Today’s agreement will help ensure manufacturers will have access to resources they need to improve and ensure the accuracy of their diagnostic tools and help us better protect our nation against Zika.”