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US Labs Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity but Facing Shortage of Supplies, Finds NILA Survey

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Oct 2020
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A survey of community and regional laboratories in the US has revealed a potential collective increase in COVID-19 testing capacity, although difficulties persist in accessing the necessary testing supplies.

The National Independent Laboratory Association (NILA St. Louis, MO, USA) conducted a survey of 12 twelve community and regional laboratories that revealed shortages of test kits, reagents, and other materials, such as plastic pipette tips, without which they were unable to perform the promised number of tests. In spite of an increase in their COVID-19 testing capacity, these labs do not have access to the supplies and materials necessary to perform critical COVID-19 tests. For example, one regional laboratory reported an allocation from a manufacturer of enough reagents to process 500 tests per day, although it has a capacity for performing at least 3,000 tests per day.

The NILA has stressed that speedy test results are critical for isolating infected patients and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Community and regional laboratories report they can provide test results within one to two days which is significantly faster than the reported wait times experienced by most of the US population in recent weeks and months. According to the NILA, mitigating supply shortages will help increase the number of tests provided as well as the speed with which test results are delivered.

“The federal government must do whatever it can to help alleviate the testing supply shortages NILA members are experiencing,” said Mark Birenbaum, Ph.D., executive director, NILA. “We won’t emerge from this pandemic unless we focus on testing, and community and regional independent laboratories are key to scaling up our nation’s testing capacity. We have not seen transparency from the federal government regarding where test supplies are being allocated and how community labs can increase their access to these essential supplies.”

Related Links:
National Independent Laboratory Association

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