Mar 11, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus testing threatened by lab materials shortage

A medical assistant demonstrating a COVID-19 test
A medical assistant demonstrating a COVID-19 test. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Diagnostic testing for the coronavirus is threatened yet again, this time by a shortage of critical lab materials, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The testing capabilities in the U.S. are still grossly behind those of other countries. This latest problem could set us even further back, allowing the coronavirus to continue to spread undetected through communities.

The state of play: U.S. labs may not have enough of the supplies used to extract generic material from any virus in a patient's sample, which is a key part of the test.

  • Qiagen, a supplier of these "RNA extraction" kits, confirmed to Politico that the product is backordered.

What's next: CDC director Robert Redfield told Politico that he didn't know how the agency would deal with a shortage of the kits.

  • He added that he is hopeful "there will be mechanisms between multiple manufacturers to correct" it.

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