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Labs still do not have supplies for coronavirus testing AACC survey finds

Christian Fernsby |
A new survey of U.S. clinical laboratories conducted by AACC has found that nearly half of all responding labs still do not have the supplies they need to run coronavirus tests.

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AACC presented these findings to the White House Coronavirus Task Force in a letter that calls on the federal government to take a more active role in alleviating this problem, so that labs can increase their testing capacity in the midst of the virus's latest surge.

As coronavirus cases in the U.S. soar, the country's labs have continued to work tirelessly to ramp up testing to help bring the pandemic under control.

However, even though U.S. labs are now performing an average of 800,000 coronavirus tests per day which is double the average daily number of tests performed in late May labs in many areas are reporting delays of up to a week in getting test results back to patients. These delays render testing essentially useless in acute patient care and in contact tracing.

The main cause of these crippling delays is the persistent shortage of testing and other essential supplies. Labs have struggled with this problem since the pandemic began, and AACC a medical professional organization that represents the lab experts on the frontlines of COVID-19 testing has been working with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to try to eliminate this roadblock.

AACC has partnered with leading data analytics firm, Edgeworth Analytics, to determine the full extent of these supply shortages and how they are changing as the pandemic progresses, in the hopes that this information can help guide the federal government's response.

So far, AACC and Edgeworth have surveyed clinical labs across the U.S. about this issue during three different time periods. The results show a troubling trend namely, that supply shortages have persisted over the last few months.

In early July, 25% of respondents reported this problem, an uptick from 21% of respondents in May.

The specific supplies that labs have the most difficulty obtaining are COVID-19 test kits and the reagents or chemicals used to perform these tests.

In fact, out of all the items that respondents had difficulty obtaining in May, personal protective equipment (PPE) is the only one that was not in short supply in late June early July. While 32% of labs had problems getting PPE in May, only 4% reported having this issue in the most recent survey.

"We at AACC are deeply concerned that clinical labs continue to struggle with obtaining the supplies needed to meet our nation's COVID-19 diagnostic testing demands," said AACC President Dr. Carmen Wiley.

"While we recognize the difficulty the federal government is encountering with this pandemic, we urge the Task Force to use the data from AACC's survey as a jumping off point to investigate these ongoing shortages, and to use the authority of the federal government to obtain and allocate these vital supplies."

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