Northwest Laboratory (NWL), a division of Northwest Pathology P.S., has announced the availability of high-capacity, rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19). They have validated two FDA EUA-approved assays and currently have capacity for up to 10,000 tests per day, with additional instrumentation and staffing plans to ramp up testing further.
“Our high-throughput testing capabilities will ensure greater access to testing, both in our region and with partners throughout the country,” said Jennifer Bull, NWL Chief Operating Officer. “Rapid results are critical to support patient triage, early contact tracing, and appropriate clinical management.” NWL is accepting physician-ordered test requests, and is working with partners nationwide to provide testing in various capacities, including employee health screening. Collection kits are available as needed.
NWL used its existing laboratory facilities and resources to validate the test process in collaboration with their state health department, then ramped up capacity quickly to help alleviate the widespread testing shortages that are affecting communities throughout the country. The effort was led by two of its physicians, Ryan Fortna, MD, PhD and Greg Wolgamot, MD, PhD, who have experience in molecular techniques and virology. A key factor in their ability to staff the lab at levels needed for 24/7, high-throughput testing was a collaboration with regional university members, employing a team of over 20 molecular biologists with experience in PCR and related molecular techniques. These new staff members brought their academic experience into the clinical laboratory setting under the guidance of Drs. Fortna and Wolgamot, who have worked closely with the team. “As our society works to get back to normal while simultaneously trying to avoid additional outbreaks, it is critical to know who is carrying the virus and who isn’t,” said Dr. Fortna. “Access to rapid, abundant testing will be key.”