- As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US, private labs are spending millions to ramp up their testing capabilities.
- We visited one private lab in New York that’s been approved to process hundreds of coronavirus tests a day.
- Read on to see exactly how a coronavirus test works.
- View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.
As US states struggle to administer tests for the coronavirus, private labs are spending millions to ramp up their testing capabilities.
One such lab, Northwell Health Labs in Lake Success, New York, is processing about 75 coronavirus tests a day after receiving federal approval late last week.
Executive director Dwayne Breining said Northwell has invested $US2.5 millions to develop the testing. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the facility to expand its testing to hundreds a day. And Breining said further FDA approval would allow his team to process as many as 1,000 a day.
“We ultimately expect it to cost about the same as other molecular viral tests, which is somewhere in $US150 range,” he told Business Insider Today.
We visited Breining’s lab to find out exactly how Northwell’s coronavirus test works, step by step.
Northwell Health Labs in Lake Success, New York has invested more than $US2 million to ramp up its coronavirus testing capabilities.
The first step of the testing process is gathering a sample from the patient.
That’s done by inserting a small brush deep into the naval cavity. The brush is made from a synthetic material with no antiseptic properties that could kill the virus.
The sample is then placed in a plastic, screw-top container with a fluid called Universal Transport Medium that preserves the sample. Right now, the sample is being “agitated” on a shaking device.
A pipettor is used to get the sample out of the vial.
And then the sample is transported into a testing cartridge.
From there, the cartridge is fed into an ePlex machine, where the sample undergoes around 20 different chemical reactions to test for the virus.
“Within the cartridge there’s an entire reaction chamber,” Dwayne Breining, executive director of Northwell Health, told Business Insider Today.
The testing process takes about two hours.
The results of the test are automatically sent to Northwell’s laboratory computers, and the information is sent to doctors’ computers in their offices.
The facility was initially processing around 75 tests a day, but on Wednesday, the FDA approved it to use a more automated testing process that will expand its numbers to hundreds a day. Breining said he eventually hopes to ramp testing up to 1,000 a day.
“The laboratory business is all about getting the right answer on the right patient to the right physician at the right time,” he said. “The faster you can do that, the faster you can make a treatment decision. And that’s better for everybody.”
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