has significantly expanded its capacity to test clinical samples for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. With new equipment that went online Tuesday, Mayo Clinic Laboratories now has the capacity to process COVID-19 test samples from all Mayo Clinic sites. In addition, it will begin processing test samples from eight other Minnesota health systems, beginning today.
“The capability to test and process clinical samples for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is urgently needed nationwide and we have been working around the clock to make this expansion happen as quickly as possible,” says William Morice, II, M.D., Ph.D., president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories and chair of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. “Our expanded capacity will expedite caring for patients at this critical time, and hopefully will ease the burden being felt at test processing laboratories in Minnesota and a growing number of geographies.”
The expanded capacity is made possible by three high-throughput diagnostic processors from Roche Diagnostics, running the Roche cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Test. These instruments are in operation at Mayo Clinic’s Superior Drive Support Center in Rochester.
This test processing capability is in addition to the COVID-19 testing developed by Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory. Announced last week, that test process is available for the Mayo Clinic practice. The Clinical Virology Laboratory, directed by microbiologist Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., also is working to scale up capacity.
With all testing options, Mayo Clinic now can process as many as 4,000 COVID-19 tests daily. Dr. Morice says that number likely will grow in coming weeks. “We anticipate that with the ongoing need for COVID-19 testing that we will need to expand our capabilities, and we’re prepared to do that,” he says.