MUSC facing critical COVID-19 testing supply issues

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – MUSC announced on Thursday that they, like many other hospitals and testing facilities nationwide, are facing many obstacles regarding COVID-19 testing.

MUSC identified four key issues, all of which can be summed up in two words: limited resources. Both material and human.

The first issue is critical supply problems, which has to do with the “specialized pipette tips, which are required to produce accurate test results and are in high international demand.”

A second issue is the limited quantity of, paired with the high demand for, qualified medical technicians to perform the test. MUSC says that worldwide, “many labs are also dealing with lab personnel absences due to community-acquired COVID-19 illness.”

Biomedical technicians, who repair lab instruments, are also in high demand and short supply. In sum, the ability to increase testing further is limited by personnel.”

Finally, there is a “limited ability to rely on outside reference labs for additional testing.” MUSC says that many of these labs are no longer accepting samples because they are nearing capacity themselves.

These issues put a strain on MUSC’s capacity to test. MUSC says that although their “goal is to maintain the quality, timeliness, and volume of testing needed…it is possible that one or all of these challenges may reduce [their] test volume capacity.”

If that is the case, MUSC may be forced to make “temporary changes to the testing paradigm in order to conserve tests for those requiring hospitalization, health care workers, and first responders.”

MUSC is reminding the public of the following:

  • Individuals who have been exposed, but remain asymptomatic, do not require COVID-19 testing.
  • Similarly, individuals who have had COVID-19 do not require a “test of cure”; instead, they should follow DHEC guidance on resuming normal activity based on resolution of symptoms.
  • For individuals who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 after 14 or more days, MUSC Health strongly encourages these individuals to seek antibody (blood) testing as a means to detect past infection. There are no lab critical issues regarding antibody testing.

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