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Covid Shows the Need for a Diagnostic Stockpile

Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

By Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“A surge in demand for Covid-19 tests is straining supplies, and patients have to wait too long for results. LabCorp, which handles about 25% of U.S. Covid testing, is adding more machines and employees and is running 180,000 tests a day, up from a few thousand a week in March. Quest and BioReference Laboratories are also overextended.

The ability to coordinate a surge in testing capacity is essential in a medical crisis. This isn’t the first time an epidemic has put stress on capabilities. In 2015, the mosquito-borne Zika infection strained the ability of public-health and commercial labs to develop and deploy tests, including for asymptomatic patients. Covid is much more widespread, and more testing is required since many with the virus show no symptoms.

Over the next few weeks, Congress will consider legislation to help get through the next phase of the pandemic. Lawmakers can alleviate the current shortages and shore up the ability to respond to future pandemics with adequate testing.”

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