The organisations behind the tool say lags in Covid-19 testing will continue, as will delays with other tests, if the demand for lab supplies isn't met

The tool found 73% of the 117 CLIA-certified labs monitored had a shortage of commercial testing kits for SARS-CoV-2 (Credit: PxHere)

A new online data collection tool has revealed the shortage of crucial supplies, including commercial testing kits needed for Covid-19 and other routine laboratory diagnostics.

Clinical microbiology laboratories have faced shortages of testing supplies, including SARS-CoV-2 molecular test kits and reagents, since March, and the high demand for Covid-19 testing has further affected the production of supplies required to test for all kinds of infectious diseases, causing a ripple effect of shortages.

The developers of the tool, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), said 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.

ASM CEO Stefano Bertuzzi said: “By collecting and making this data publicly available, we intend to help make critical changes to the US testing strategy.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been working with the clinical laboratory leaders to identify ways to tackle this debilitating issue.”

The ASCM has been building reliable supply chains in underserved, frontier markets, funded by a three-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to it in October 2018.

ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE, said his organisation modified the platform used for this purpose to track the needs of labs in the US.

“The platform provides a near real-time visualization into the capacity, utilization and resources necessary to meet consumer and patient demand for testing,” he added

“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.”


How bad are the US testing shortages for Covid-19 and other diseases?

According to ASM and ASCM, 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, 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 or systemic diseases).