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The Next Testing Hurdle

The next SARS-CoV-2 testing crisis may be on the horizon, the Atlantic reports.

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the US got to a slow start as testing kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exhibited issues when undergoing quality control checks. This led to delays as the CDC had to re-manufacture a reagent for the kit. To bolster testing capability, a number of private companies and labs stepped in to develop and offer tests.

But as the Atlantic now reports, some labs may have taken in more samples than they could run. In particular, it notes that while California is now testing about 2,136 patient samples for SARS-CoV-2 a day, more than 57,400 Californians have pending test results. The Atlantic traces some of these pending results to Quest Diagnostics' difficulties in scaling up testing while still accepting samples for testing. The lab first started out using a labor-intensive laboratory-developed test before switching to a high-throughput test developed by Roche, it adds. But, according to the Atlantic, samples collected for the first LDT can't be run on the Roche one, accounting in part for the backlog.

It adds, though, that the problem isn't limited to Quest or to California, but argues that "California is the flare alerting the nation to systemic problems in our testing regime. Will we heed it?"