Coronavirus outbreak has brought the world to a halt. Every country is suffering and trying its best to provide sufficient help to its citizens. The very first step of this help involves testing.
In this article, we will explain to you why some COVID-19 tests in the US are taking more than a week.
The United States, one of the worst-hit countries of the world has been facing problems regarding tests. Many test results in America are taking almost more than a week to give results making it one of the most pressing problems of America currently.
This is a matter of great concern as testing plays a pivotal role in the fight against the pandemic. So what has led the US to this situation? Read on to find out why some COVID-19 tests in the US are taking more than a week.
Why testing is so important
Testing is important for establishing an understanding of how much Coronavirus has already spread. This will help medical healthcare workers and governments to come up with a better response to the outbreak.
And now on a very individual level, you can’t depend on symptoms to decide whether you really do have coronavirus or not.
Symptoms of Coronavirus can sometimes go easily unnoticed. Other times, you just might not have the symptom very characteristic of COVID-19 (like fever or sore throat), and yet you might be affected. Testing becomes a necessity in such situations
WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with two days before they developed the symptoms, and test those people too.”
The message seems quite simple: test as many suspected patients as you can. And yet many people aren’t getting tested at all, while those are getting tested are getting the results days later.
Who is conducting tests?
Before we tell you more about why some of the COVID-19 tests in the US are taking more than a week, we must know some basic things. And yes, it starts by knowing who is conducting these tests.
Right now, four main types of labs are performing Coronavirus testing in the US:
1- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention run federally
2- Public health labs run by states
3- In-house hospital labs
4- Commercial labs
According to the figures published by the state’s health department, 19% of all COVID-19 tests are done at in house labs. Commercial labs are performing about 65% of the total tests.
Delays at commercial labs
Shortage of supplies is one of the biggest reasons behind the delay in testing results. A commercial lab conducting the test supplies materials like nose or throat swabs to the testing locations first. But even as that happens, the supply of testing kits becomes another problem.
American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) said, “No laboratory, in our understanding, has the predictable access to supplies necessary for the continued expansion of testing.”
Another big problem is the funding. Although tests are being conducted, there is barely a clarity on who will bear all these expenses.
In-house facilities deliver test results fairly sooner. He biggest advantage is that the test specimens don’t have to travel from one place to another. Since everything takes place within one single facility, it increases the efficiency by a large margin.
Not only that, in-house facilities are more in their testing workflows than big automated labs. This, in turn, helps them react to the fluctuations in supply.
Ben Pinsky, the medical director of Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory said, “It’s not surprising that if you’re trying to test for basically the whole country that isn’t affiliated with a medical system, your turnaround time may be slower.”
Slow testing presents many challenges. For example, a person suspected of the virus will have to be isolated for a period of 14 days or at least until the results are out. This is not always feasible and sometimes not safe.
Slow testing also means that health care workers who are suspected of the virus will have to be quarantined for longer period of times. That will prevent them from providing their services when the needed.
If the US really needs to bring considerable change, they have to come up with faster and cheaper tests.
So that’s all for now. Until next time!