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Long Wait

A number of factors influence the turnaround times for SARS-CoV-2 tests in the US, Technology Review reports.

It writes that Jason Bae, an urgent care physician in Northern California, asked a Facebook group of physicians about their experiences with SARS-CoV-2 testing. His query, it adds, drew more than 1,500 replies that suggested turnaround times differed for outpatient testing at commercial labs — where they were getting longer — and inpatient testing at in-house labs — where they were getting shorter.

As Tech Review notes, those times-to-results are affected by various factors such as supply shortages, lack of funding, and poor testing prioritization. It also adds that many physicians' offices have contracts with outside labs, meaning they cannot easily switch from one lab with a testing backup to another that is processing tests more quickly. 

Fixing testing, it adds, will likely take a mix of approaches, all of which it says require funding and coordination. In-house labs can test patients and at-risk healthcare workers, it says, while commercial labs could scale their capacity up. "If the US can make the necessary changes to the network of laboratories involved in coronavirus testing, it might make these next six months a little less painful," Tech Review writes.