A new online data collection tool has revealed shortages of crucial supplies, including commercial test kits needed for COVID-19 and other routine laboratory diagnostics. 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 online platform, developed by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in partnership with the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), will continue to monitor COVID-19 and non-COVID testing supplies to identify shortages in real-time.
Clinical microbiology laboratories have faced shortages of testing supplies, including SARS-CoV-2 molecular test kits and reagents, since March. The high demand for COVID-19 testing has further affected the production of supplies required to test for all kinds of infectious diseases and caused a ripple effect of shortages.
Currently, 117 CLIA-certified labs have used the tool and report running at an average of 41% testing capacity for COVID-19. The results also show that:
- 73 % 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).
- 70 % of labs have a shortage of supplies for molecular detection of sexually transmitted infections.
- 18% have a shortage of supplies for detection of mycobacteria (including the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), Buruli ulcer and pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterial disease).
- 50 % of labs have a shortage of supplies for routine fungal testing (ranging from superficial, localized skin conditions to deeper tissue infections, serious lung, blood (septicemia) or systemic diseases).
Tracking this data and making it openly accessible will illuminate opportunities to improve diagnostic testing capacities for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. This survey will help raise awareness of existing supply shortages and address the associated limitations to patient care.
“By collecting and making this data publicly available, we intend to help make critical changes to the U.S. testing strategy. ASM is committed to solving the ongoing supply shortage concerns,” said Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO, ASM. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been working with the clinical laboratory leaders to identify ways to tackle this debilitating issue. Our goal is to identify supply shortages that are affecting day-to-day testing,” he added.
ASM continues to collect this data to help improve the U.S. COVID-19 testing strategy by:
- Monitoring COVID-19 test reagent demand at the single laboratory level and rolling this data up to the state and national levels.
- Piloting an infrastructure that could be further expanded and serve laboratory coordination beyond the current pandemic (such as for future flu seasons).
- Provide real-time data to address laboratory challenges.
“Our partnership with ASM enabled us to modify the platform that was developed with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help underserved, less-established markets in Africa get the lifesaving supplies they need. Customized to meet the needs of labs in the United States, 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, CSCP, CPA, CAE. “The success of the tool relies on the collaboration between public and private enterprises; we are proud to partner with ASM and its members to ensure that effective COVID-19 and other diagnostic testing is readily available throughout the United States.”