Supply chain bottlenecks are contributing to the long wait for COVID-19 testing results in the US, Reuters reports.
It adds that as US labs typically rely on automated systems to conduct testing, they need to use particular reagents and other tools that work with the systems they have. Because of this, when testing rates go up, there can be shortages of needed supplies. "The vendors are in an impossible situation right now where they can't say yes to everyone," Geoffrey Baird, who runs the medical laboratory at the University of Washington, tells Reuters. Four companies — Cepheid, Hologic, Roche, and Abbott Laboratories — provide much of the COVID-19 testing capacity in the US, according to Reuters.
Reuters notes that Congress has put funds toward boosting COVID-19 testing, but not in a way that will alleviate supply chain problems, as states have sought machines from the same companies. Some labs, it says, have obtained machines from multiple companies and switch between them based on what supplies are available and others are using multi-step tests, which are more labor intensive.