Is there a local answer to COVID rapid test shortage?

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:07 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - No question, rapid tests or at-home testing for COVID-19 are tough to come by. Many who can’t find them at a local pharmacy are going to the internet to have the tests delivered to their homes.

That’s not working either. They are out-of-stock and there is no guarantee of a delivery date.

Two years ago, the story was nearly the same as state and local labs across the country could not find testing materials to analyze nasal swabs from patients.

That’s when the state of Nevada decided to take matters into its own hands.

“On March 16th the FDA said if the state is willing to set up its own quality control programs for these things, then we could manufacture some of them,” says Dr. Mark Pandori, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Lab. “And some of them we were able to manufacture.”

Dr. Pandori says libraries were able to use 3D printers to make nasal swabs UNR School of Medicine also helped with other materials which pushed testing here in Nevada to where it needed to be.

“It was an on/off switch. If we didn’t do that, we were going to test zero people,” says Dr. Pandori. Could Nevada then take that same concept and make its own, at-home rapid testing kits? Dr. Pandori says no.

Such tests he says have many components which need to be rigorously tested and require FDA examination.

“They don’t require lab professionals to run them. But ironically the materials used to build them are different than the materials used in a collection kit that provide lab-based testing,” says Pandori.

With that answer, those who come across an at home or rapid test, Dr. Pandori says don’t be tempted to buy as many as allowed. That’s because they have a shelf-life and may not be as effective should the test expire.

At home tests are easy to use and sophisticated inside. Only FDA approved tests will appear at retailers and pharmacies.

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