March 1, 2021 Intelligence: Late-Breaking Lab News

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Even as the nation’s clinical laboratories work to expand the number of molecular COVID-19 tests they can perform daily, the demand for such tests is plunging. That’s one conclusion in a news story published by the Associated Press in recent days. The AP illustrated this fact with the situation in Los Angeles County. Reporter Matthew Perrone wrote, “Just five weeks ago, Los Angeles County was conducting more than 350,000 weekly coronavirus tests, including at a massive drive-thru site at Dodger Stadium, as health workers raced to contain the worst COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S. Now, county officials say testing has nearly collapsed. More than 180 government-supported sites are operating at only a third of their capacity.

MORE ON: Demand for COVID-19 Tests Drops

The AP said that, “U.S. testing hit a peak on Jan. 15, when the country was averaging more than two million tests per day. Since then, the average number of daily tests has fallen more than 28%.” This situation has many implications and clinical lab administrators will want to carefully align their lab’s COVID-19 testing capacity with changes in demand.

GENETIC VARIATIONS IN MIDDLE EAST POPULATIONS 

Recognizing that different regions and different populations will have unique genetic variations, a research team at Qatar Foundation (QF) in Qatar recently published what is considered to be the first and largest genetic association study in the Middle East. It can be found in the online, peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications. The study identifies genetic associations with 45 clinically relevant traits in the Qatari population. The Arab American News wrote, “The research confirms that the existing global dataset of human genomes, which over-represent European populations, does not accurately reveal the genetic architecture of diseases affecting Arab populations in the Middle East. The study serves as a foundation for implementing precision medicine in the region.” Arab populations have a long tradition of consanguinity due to socio-cultural factors. That is why knowledge of these genetic variants is expected to help achieve better patient outcomes.

TRANSITIONS

• Ultivue of Cambridge, Mass., appointed Mark Rees, PhD, as its Vice President of Corporate Development. Previously, Rees held positions at StatLab, Enzo Life Sciences, and Leica Biosystems. 

• Infinity BiologiX, of Piscataway, N.J., announced Sameer Kalghatgi, PhD, as its new Senior Director, Laboratory Operations. He formerly held executive positions at Coriell Institute for Medical Research, and EP Technologies. 

That’s all the insider intelligence for this report.  Look for the next briefing on Monday, March 22, 2021.

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