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.

Go deeper: Lab for coronavirus test kits may have been contaminated

Go deeper

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have remained unreplicated for 75 years in part because the U.S. and Soviet Union — after peering over the ledge into nuclear armageddon — began to negotiate.

Why it matters: The arms control era that began after the Cuban Missile Crisis may now be coming to a close. The next phase could be a nuclear free-for-all.

Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired and BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

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Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.