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Is This The Next Major Roadblock To The White House’s Coronavirus Response?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Even as VP Pence and CDC Director Robert Redfield said that up to 4 million tests would be distributed to labs across the country in the coming days, even as they admitted that only 5,000 Americans had been tested for the virus so far.

But as Politico reported last night, even as the Trump Administration plays catch up with distributing tests, its latest roadblock involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainty over the length of time for tests to produce results, which could also delay the response to the virus. The problem is related to something called “reagents”.

CDC Director Robert Redfield told Politico on Tuesday that he is “not confident” that US labs have an adequate stock of the “RNA extraction kits” needed to extract genetic material from any virus in a patient’s sample.

“The availability of those reagents is obviously being looked at,” he said, referring to the chemicals used for preparing samples. “I’m confident of the actual test that we have, but as people begin to operationalize the test, they realize there’s other things they need to do the test.”

The White House coronavirus task force is aware of the shortages and, as one official told Politico, the members are “working on it.” However, if the problem isn’t dealt with soon, all of those labs that have set up testing for the virus won’t be able to actually run their tests.

The growing scarcity of these “RNA extraction” kits is the latest trouble for US labs, which have struggled to implement widespread coronavirus testing in the seven weeks since the country diagnosed its first case. Epidemiologists and public health officials say that the delayed rollout, caused in part by a botched CDC test, has masked the scope of the U.S. outbreak and hobbled efforts to limit it.

If enough processing kits aren’t available, the risk that testing will be disrupted is “huge,” said Michael Mina, associate medical director of molecular diagnostics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

One company that makes these critical reagents said that its products are currently on back-order due to the enormous surge in demand.

Qiagen, a major supplier of the kits, confirmed that its product is backordered due to “the extraordinary pace” at which the world has increased coronavirus testing over the last few weeks.

Adding to the need, most labs are trying to run at least two tests per patient.

Complicating the situation, most labs have been running at least two tests per patient – although that could soon change. The CDC issued interim guidelines on Monday that minimize the number of tests required for a diagnosis. The agency says labs can combine a patient’s nose and throat samples into one test, a move experts say will cut in half the amount of supplies used to test each person.

A Harvard epidemiologist who has been closely following the outbreak highlighted the issue, and noted that some local labs in North Carolina are already struggling.


We suspect the Washington Post, NYT and the rest of the mainstream press will soon come up with a million reasons why this shortage is also Trump’s fault.


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