November 16, 2020 Intelligence: Late-Breaking Lab News

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It appears that the onset of the influenza season in North America is bringing with it a sizeable increase in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases. In the second week of November, the United States saw daily new cases push towards 200,000—which is more than double the mid-July peak of about 70,000 cases per day. In turn, that larger number of daily new infections increases the need for larger daily volumes of SARS-CoV-2 tests. The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) responded to these developments with a press release on Nov. 12 warning that the nation’s labs are running at full capacity and will be challenged to maintain the desired turnaround time of 48 hours for a COVID-19 test result. 

MORE ON: Upsurge of COVID-19 Cases

ACLA said that its member laboratories performed 495,000 COVID-19 PCR tests on Nov. 11, which was “an all-time high” for ACLA-member labs. ACLA also said, “the surge in demand for testing will mean that some members could reach or exceed their current testing capacities in the coming days. In cases where the number of specimens received exceeds an individual laboratory’s testing capacity, there could be an increase in their average time to deliver results. ”

ELON MUSK: ‘EXTREMELY BOGUS’ COVID-19 TESTS

One Silicon Valley billionaire is learning about the complexities of a clinical laboratory test. Days ago, Bloomberg reported that Tesla CEO Elon Musk went on Twitter and posted, “Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for COVID four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test.” That got noticed by the news media. On Nov. 15, Musk posted a tweet that said, “Doing tests from several different labs, same time of day, administered by RN & am requesting N1 gene PCR cycle threshold. There is no official standard for PCR testing. Not sure people realize this.”

TRANSITIONS

Jeffrey Field, MS, MBA, is the new Chief Commercial Officer at Clear Labs of San Carlos, Calif. Field previously worked at IDbyDNA, GenePeeks, Foundation Medicine, Caris Life Sciences, CVS Health, AstraZeneca, and Merck and Company.

• The American Academy of Dermatology, with headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., announced the selection of Elizabeth K. Usher, MBA, as its new Executive Director and CEO. Usher previously held executive positions with the College of American Pathologists, GE Healthcare, and Amersham Health. 

That’s all the insider intelligence for this report. Look for the next briefing on Monday, December 7, 2020.

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