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Could Rapid Testing Solve Backlog of COVID-19 Tests?

a nurse in a surgical gown and mask uses a nasal swab to test a woman for coronavirus
A woman gets tested for coronavirus.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 23 July 2020 06:16 PM

Some Americans are waiting weeks to get the results of their COVID-19 tests. A study published in The Lancet said a delay of only three days makes it nearly impossible to slow the spread of the coronavirus. People who may be positive with COVID-19 can infect dozens of people while waiting for test results, and those who are negative often have to put their lives on hold until they get clearance to move ahead.

“Every day they wait is another day of quarantine, or it they’re not, it’s another day they could be infecting other people,” said Dr. Keith Jerome, of the University of Washington medical school. According to NBC News, the backlog of tests in laboratories could be solved by implementing rapid, point-of-care tests that deliver results in minutes, not days.

The problem with rapid testing is that they aren’t always accurate, say experts. Joseph Petrosino, director of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor School of Medicine compares it to eating at a fast food restaurant.

“If you go to a gourmet restaurant, you don’t expect your meal ready in five minutes,” said, according to NBC News. “But if you’re on the go and eat fast food, the quality of food is usually a sacrifice, compared to the gourmet restaurant. That’s the same as the testing world.”

A good example is Abbott Labs’ ID Now, a rapid test that recently came under fire after it was reported that it returned false negatives for nearly 50% of samples compared to other tests. However, California-based Cepheid Inc. has developed a point-of-care test that is nearly as accurate as lab-based tests and gives results within an hour.

According to NBC News, there has been a shortage of reagents for Cepheid’s test and the machines themselves are not widely available. Jerome says that UW Medicine has only one which is kept in the emergency room.

According to the Deseret News, the delays in testing aren’t just about the shortages in testing equipment but are also caused by a lack of trained laboratory professionals. And with testing trying to keep up with pandemic, the needs for supplies and personnel will only grow greater.

The American Clinical Laboratory Association issued a press release last week saying “In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in states across the country, many labs are now receiving more test orders that they are able to process in a single day.”

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Some Americans are waiting weeks to get the results of their COVID-19 tests. A study published in The Lancet said a delay of only three days makes it nearly impossible to slow the spread of the coronavirus. ...
coronavirus, rapid, test
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2020-16-23
Thursday, 23 July 2020 06:16 PM
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