The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s pathology lab is to start testing for COVID-19 using the laboratory’s own test by the end of the week.
“This test should be available by the end of this week and will allow us to begin processing 100 tests per day,” said Dr. Sixto Leal, assistant professor of Pathology at UAB. “We will be testing primarily priority in-patients at UAB Hospital so we can preserve negative pressure rooms. Within three to four weeks, we hope to have 800 tests per day.”
The hospital is already taking samples from patients seeking testing, but the testing is being performed off-site at the state’s public health lab or private companies. The change will allow UAB to test on-site, which will make results much quicker and increase capacity.
UAB is working with diagnostic test companies on multiple platforms and multiple systems to increase testing capacity, Leal said in a statement.
“One of the issues we’re facing nationwide is that there is such a demand for reagents to do these diagnostic tests, and the reagents are not available. That’s why we’re going the LDT route, which is a laboratory-developed test,” Leal said. “Developing our own tests enables us to obtain the reagents to be able to perform the tests. So a lot of commercial manufacturers are ramping up their production, which makes tests available, and we’re working to bring up several of these here at UAB.”
Health care providers in Alabama have expressed concern over a lack of testing in the state and across the country, due in part to a lack of the tests themselves, but also to a run on supplies needed to do the tests, and not enough staffing to meet the demands.