The Trump administration said it will now spend billions of dollars on helping states make COVID-19 testing more readily available, a move expected to resolve concerns of research delays for months.
Yet here’s the puzzle: Most laboratories claim they’ve got plenty of work. Why is the difference, then?
A “test,” it turns out, is not a single device. COVID-19 research requires multiple phases, each involving various materials, and various supply constraints are present in different locations at different times.
But amid concerns from health professionals and governors about supply shortages at least as early as February, the federal government took to speed up domestic swabs production until late April — a basic component in the most popular form of COVID-19 study.
In contrast to an antibody test. The swab test checks for active infections which involves drawing blood to check whether the body has recovered from the virus.
Stage 1 in a swab procedure involves extracting a sample and the most effective way to achieve so is by swabbing the nose or throat of a patient. The collection of samples usually involves a swab, a tube and a chemical solution. It’s called “viral transport media”. Which keeps the sample fresh as it travels to a lab. There are hundreds of forms of FDA-approved swab procedures, and the swabbing typically takes place in clinics, neighborhood health centres, or drive-through test sites.
Move 2 happens in a lab. There, they collected genetic material from the sample. That involves a special machine called reagents and chemicals.
Stage 3 happens after the genetic material is extracted. A computer tests if there is any of the coronavirus in the genetic material. If it does, then the sample has evaluated COVID-19 positively.
“A test is not only a one-component test but consisting of several different elements”. Heather Pierce, senior director of research policy and regulatory counsel at the American Medical Colleges Association said. “If all of those elements are also absent or have inadequate amounts. We can’t carry out the study”. The COVID-19 testing phase was by absent materials, including swabs, reagents and the chemical solution that holds samples here. For times, people have shortages but not others, or one place has them and another does not.