NEW YORK – Almost half of laboratories surveyed by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry reported they still do not have the supplies necessary to run SARS-CoV-2 tests, the association said on Tuesday.
AACC reported the findings in a letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force as it called on the federal government to take a more active role to solve the problem and increase testing capacity for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
AACC, in partnership with analytics firm Edgewood Analytics, began surveying labs in May, and in its most recent survey, it found that the percentage of responding labs that reported having problems getting supplies improved to 46 percent in early July from 58 percent in May. The percentage of labs that said they were unable to process all requested COVID-19 tests within a week because of supply shortages increased, however, to 25 percent in July from 21 percent in May.
The inability to get COVID-19 test kits and the reagents to run the tests was especially problematic as 58 percent of labs cited such an issue, while 46 percent said getting reagents was a problem, and 38 percent of labs noted issues getting nasal swabs for patient samples for testing.
AACC said that they surveyed 53 labs.
A notable area of improvement was the ability to get personal protective equipment. In May, 32 percent of labs said they had problems getting such equipment. By July, that improved to 4 percent.
"We at AACC are deeply concerned that clinical labs continue to struggle with obtaining the supplies needed to meet our nation's COVID-19 diagnostic testing demands," AACC President Carmen Wiley said in a statement. "While we recognize the difficulty the federal government is encountering with this pandemic, we urge the Task Force to use the data from AACC's survey as a jumping off point to investigate these ongoing shortages, and to use the authority of the federal government to obtain and allocate these vital supplies."
AACC noted that the number of COVID-19 test being performed have doubled since late May to about 800,000 tests daily currently, but added that some labs are reporting delays of up to a week in getting results to patients.
Recently, Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corporation of America said that their times to results for SARS-CoV-2 tests have increased as parts of the country have seen a sharp spike in the number of coronavirus cases. They added that as the fall and the flu season approach, they may not be able to meet the demand for SARS-CoV-2 tests.