While the surge in coronavirus cases in the United States has amplified the need for timely testing, diagnostic companies continue to grapple with turnaround times of multiple days or more for coronavirus test results.
Some labs have attributed the longer waits to extreme demand and strain on testing supply chains. There are now more than 3.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, with tens of thousands of new infections every day.
Quest Diagnostics said in a statement Monday that average turnaround time has increased to seven days or more for the general population, and that a “small subset of patients” may experience wait times of up to two weeks.
Prioritized patients, such as symptomatic healthcare workers and those who are hospitalized, get results in two days on average, the company said. Quest says that’s longer than the one-day average wait time priority patients had a week ago.
On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Quest to use its Covid-19 test with pooled specimens, where samples from multiple patients are tested together, which the company said should help increase capacity.
But Quest also said the biggest factors they face now are the limits of the complex machines that perform the tests, as well as limited supply of reagents, the chemicals used to perform the tests.
US Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday the average turnaround time for tests in most states is longer than three days, though in 18 states the average is two to three days.
“That is not optimum. We want to reduce that. It will be reduced,” said Giroir, who added that supply of reagents is “tight.”