New tool launched to identify US COVID-19 testing shortages
A new tool has been developed in the United States which sheds light on COVID-19 testing equipment shortages through the supply chain. The online data collection tool has revealed the shortage of crucial supplies, including commercial testing kits needed for Covid-19 and other routine laboratory diagnostics. Microbiology laboratories in the USA have faced shortages of supplies, including COVID-19 test kits and reagents, since the beginning of the pandemic. As demand surges for COVID-19 testing, there has been a knock-on effect on supplies for testing processes for all kinds of infectious diseases.
The developers of the tool, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), said lags in COVID-19 testing will continue, as will delays with other tests for common illnesses such as strep throat, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections, if the demand for lab supplies isn’t met. The ACSM received a three-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in October 2018 so that it could continue building reliable supply chain networks in underserved, frontier markets.
ACSM and ASM conducted a survey of shortages in the US testing market showing that 73% of CLIA-certified labs have a shortage of commercial testing kits for SARS-CoV-2. 65% of labs have a shortage of non-COVID-19 testing supplies for detection of routine bacteria (including the bacteria that cause strep throat, pneumonia, bronchitis and urinary tract infections). “The platform provides a near real-time visualization into the capacity, utilization and resources necessary to meet consumer and patient demand for testing,” said ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi.