The United States is once again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, an ominous development that would deny the country a crucial tool to understand its pandemic in real time.
The American testing supply chain is stretched to the limit, and the ongoing outbreak in the South and West could overwhelm it, according to epidemiologists and testing-company executives. While the country’s laboratories have added tremendous capacity in the past few months—the U.S. now tests about 550,000 people each day, a fivefold increase from early April—demand for viral tests is again outpacing supply.
If demand continues to accelerate and shortages are not resolved, then turnaround times for test results will rise, tests will effectively be rationed, and the number of infections that are never counted in official statistics will grow. Any plan to contain the virus will depend on fast and accurate testing, which can identify newly infectious people before they set off new outbreaks. Without it, the U.S. is in the dark.
The U.S. is again at risk of outstripping its COVID-19 testing capacity, and delays at testing providers are piling up, @alexismadrigal and @yayitsrob report. “The testing supply chain wasn’t meant for this kind of onslaught of volume,” an expert says. https://t.co/wPQ8qgQo4F
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) July 1, 2020