TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Officials have been saying for weeks that a nationwide shortage of supplies has put a roadblock on COVID-19 testing, but over the weekend, a handful of scientists at the University of Arizona have figured out a way to help.
A group of seven researchers, led by Dr. David Harris, assembled 1,600 COVID-19 test kits, over the course of three days.
“If they want them, we have them,” said Harris, director of the UA Biorepository.
He said the lab can make around 5,000 a week, and could supply the Pima County Health Department with 1,000 every week “for a few months.” He said they are willing to provide the kits for hospitals, like Banner, with these kits. Banner did not give an immediate response on whether they would use the kits or not at time this story was published.
“Which should not be a problem from our end,” Harris said.
The test kits include the swab, the tube and transport, from a few different providers the research lab has worked with for the past several years. Harris said the lab only assembles the kits with components that are FDA approved and have been testing the kits on themselves.
It’s a dent in the global problem of COVID-19. With more tests done, scientists will be able to get a better grasp on the virus.
“We wanted to know how many people were infected to know what the prevalence was, which would then give you an idea of what the mortality really is like,” Harris said.
PCHD will pick up their first stock of 1,000 kits Monday.
The U of A is also working on being able to test the swabs to help labs diagnose patients with COVID 19, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.
The lab said they can make around 20,000 total kits. They said they hope commercial labs will have picked up production of kits at that point.