UW Medicine says it has extra capacity for coronavirus tests; bottlenecks may lie elsewhere

The College of Washington Faculty of Medicine says its virology lab is now able to performing 1,000 genetic exams for the COVID-19 coronavirus on daily basis — however all that capacity hasn’t but absolutely come into play.

“We’ve carried out a bit of greater than 400 exams to this point over this week,” Alex Greninger, assistant director of UW Medicine Clinical Virology Laboratories, defined in an electronic mail.  “Now we have rather more capacity to carry out exams than we’re at present receiving.  We carry out exams on the specimens we’re despatched.  Our present capacity in simply over a thousand exams per day, and we’re constructing out to carry out 4,000 to five,000 per day.”

Primarily based on a survey of public health officials conducted by The Atlantic, the utmost throughput on simply sooner or later may surpass the variety of exams which were performed nationwide over the course of the previous two months. The Atlantic reported that its tally got here to 1,895 folks examined for the coronavirus in america, about 10 p.c of whom have examined constructive.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention hasn’t launched its personal numbers on what number of have been examined thus far. Testing efforts had been hampered within the early levels of the U.S. outbreak because of problems with CDC test kits.

These issues led the Meals and Drug Administration to give the go-ahead for selected labs to come up with their own tests. UW Medicine began using its RNA-based test on patient samples on Tuesday.

In a tweet, UW Medicine’s virology lab reported that there’s “a constant positivity fee of 5-7% amongst specimens submitted to the lab.” That interprets to twenty to twenty-eight constructive outcomes because the lab began processing exams. (One individual may be the topic of a number of exams, so it’s not essentially legitimate to imagine there are 20 to twenty-eight new instances.)

Some individuals who have skilled no less than among the signs related to COVID-19 say they’ve encountered issues after they’ve sought to be examined. That means there may be bottlenecks within the procedures that precede testing.

Because the virus spreads, public well being officers are cautious about overstressing medical amenities. Seattle-King County Public Well being says sick people do not need to be tested except they’ve been involved with somebody who’s identified to have the COVID-19 virus, or are themselves in a high-risk class — for instance, older than 60 or affected by underlying well being situations.

Sick individuals who don’t match these danger classes are being advised to stay home, besides to get medical care. Folks looking for medical care may discover themselves in a Catch-22, nonetheless: One affected person described such a scenario after listening to that UW Medicine had extra capacity for coronavirus testing.

“That’s not the place the bottleneck is,” stated the affected person, who spoke on situation of anonymity due to his employment standing.

The affected person stated he tried to schedule a check or an appointment as a result of he was operating a fever, however was instructed the sampling process couldn’t be completed on the clinic. “The one place that may really do the testing is the emergency room — that’s what I used to be instructed,” he stated.

However he was additionally instructed to not go to the ER except he was experiencing respiratory misery. As a substitute, he was given a prescription for flu remedy. Happily, the affected person stated he’s feeling higher as of as we speak.

That’s only one story, after all. Now we have additionally heard a couple of teenage affected person who skilled a fever, went in for a coronavirus check and obtained the all-clear inside only a few hours. We’ve reached out to a few Seattle-area well being care networks for their perspective, and can replace this report with something we hear.

Seattle is on no account the one place the place entry to coronavirus testing has been a problem. Throughout Thursday’s quick visit to Washington state, Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged that “we nonetheless have a methods to go” when it involves offering sufficient check kits to satisfy the anticipated demand. However he promised that sufficient kits to run greater than 1,000,000 exams could be distributed by the tip of subsequent week.

Does that imply UW Medicine’s testing operation will turn out to be pointless? Completely not, Greninger stated.

“Nothing obviates the necessity for any check. Different laboratories will have the ability to provide testing based mostly on the FDA’s steerage and availability of testing kits. It does take time to find out assay efficiency and validate the check, after which deal with the logistical points to obtain all of the specimens and outcome them out,” Greninger stated.

“The U.S. is in a greater place than it was final week,” he stated, “however we have to catch as much as this virus.”

Sufferers can’t refer themselves for testing with UW Medicine’s lab process — the check is out there solely by physicians and healthcare suppliers. UW Medicine cautions that each one outcomes are thought of presumptive, and shouldn’t be the only foundation for selections on managing a affected person’s situation.
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