ACLA Update on PCR Testing Capacity for COVID-19
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As ACLA member laboratories continue to navigate unprecedented demand and significant supply challenges, ACLA President Julie Khani issued the following statement:
“In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in states across the country, many labs are now receiving more test orders than they are able to process in a single day. We have urged ordering providers to prioritize testing for those most in need, especially hospitalized and symptomatic patients. That will help better manage demand for testing while labs continue to perform COVID-19 testing and increase their capacity, which will require adequate supplies and additional equipment.
Since the federal government first cleared regulatory hurdles to expand testing on February 29, ACLA member laboratories have performed over 20 million molecular tests for COVID-19. We have made significant strides in expanding capacity, which has tripled since early April, and ACLA labs are now performing more than 300,000 tests each day. Our members have been committed from the earliest stages of this pandemic to do everything possible to increase access to testing and have pioneered a wide range of innovative approaches to meet testing demand. From developing and bringing to market new tests to diagnose this evolving virus, to engaging physicians and public health partners around the importance of ordering guidelines and data that must be collected at the point of care, to closely monitoring supplies with diagnostic manufacturers and the federal government, ACLA members have responded with actionable solutions to facilitate patient access to testing.
But we can’t do it alone. Laboratories, diagnostic manufacturers, ordering providers, public health officials, states and importantly, the federal government – including Congress and the Administration – all have a role to play in addressing the challenges hampering our nation’s response to this public health crisis.
In collaboration with the broader diagnostics community, we are exploring new technologies and testing strategies to maximize capacity for COVID-19 molecular testing, including targeting the use of antibody testing, expanding antigen and other point-of-care testing, and implementing specimen pooling in low-prevalence areas and populations. ACLA laboratories will continue to bring forward novel approaches to expand testing capacity and work closely with regulatory agencies to maximize their use.
Accurate and reliable testing is one of the most important tools we have to combat this crisis, but what we do with the information yielded by these tests is just as important. Testing is a critical component of a comprehensive and coordinated public health strategy within each community, which also must include other elements such as adherence to mask protocols and social distancing recommendations.
As we work to mitigate the spread of the virus and meet the range of needs facing the country, including the reopening of schools and workplaces, now is the time for the federal government to outline a clear action plan to guide us through this pandemic. ACLA members will continue to do our part in expanding COVID-19 testing capacity to support the public health needs our nation faces now and in the future.”