LEE’S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) - Doctors across the country are frustrated with the restricted access to COVID-19 testing. The CDC has guidelines for which patients qualify. Those guidelines will not apply to commercial facilities like one in Lee’s Summit.
Chief Scientific Officer Michelle Altrich says Viracor Clinical Diagnostics has been working to develop testing for the novel coronavirus since January.
“The virus has been able to spread faster than the development of the diagnostic testing,” Altrich said.
Last month the FDA loosened some of the red tape for commercial labs to get federal approval for their tests.
Friday, the Lee’s Summit laboratory will start their testing and they’ve already got a long list of clients.
“What we have actually seen is that the need for additional testing really knows no boundaries. So we have clients that were talking to from New York to Texas, here locally as well,” Altrich said.
Until recently, testing for coronavirus could only be done through state health departments and the CDC.
“The testing available at the public health labs just hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand,” Altrich said.
The shortage is concerning public health officials.
“With some problems that occurred in the initial development of the test in this country-there is still not the capacity that we would like to see in public health,” KCMO Health Director Dr. Rex Archer said.
To get tested with a CDC kit, a patient has to show symptoms, have traveled to a part of the world where transmissions are happening, or have direct contact with a known patient and first test negative for the flu.
“There is a good deal of frustration around the medical community,” Altrich said.
Alrich says a lot of doctors have reasons why they would want to test a patient who doesn’t meet all those criteria.
One example is needing to rule out the virus in a critically ill patient who needs invasive surgery. This lab will now help ease those frustrations.
To be clear, a patient cannot come to a commercial lab and request to be tested for COVID-19. The tests must be ordered by a physician.