LANDSTUHL, Germany – Landstuhl Regional Medical Center recently introduced a high-throughput testing system to provide rapid high-volume testing of COVID-19 samples to its arsenal in the fight against COVID-19.
The 74 inch by 32 inch device is as large as two standard-size refrigerators and provides standalone capabilities of up to 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day at LRMC. The automated system allows for minimal hands-on time while increasing staff safety, spending less time near samples, and productivity.
“This represents the most recent acquisition in our testing arsenal for SARS-CoV-2,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Peterson, chief, Department of Pathology and Area Laboratory Services, LRMC. “This particular analyzer has both a high throughput and a shorter turnaround time. So results are available more quickly, and we can do a higher volume of testing on this analyzer.”
The system is currently configured for the COVID-19 assay through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization for medical devices. The system itself is approved by the FDA for various other disease testing and detection when configured for those purposes.
“This is huge,” said Peterson. “Other platforms we have are either very tedious or time consuming (up to 68 hours), or are low throughput.”
According to Peterson, the system also decreases test result wait times by automatically entering results into the patient’s electronic medical record rather than having technicians manually input test results into patient records, further decreasing possibilities for human error. Still, data must be analyzed and certified by pathologists to ensure accuracy, but can be done so in batches.
“There are certainly limiting factors (in performing high-volume testing at LRMC),” said Peterson. “Resources, maintenance and staffing will ultimately determine true output.”
Over the past months as operations have resumed and service members are continuing to deploy globally in support of various missions, the need for sentinel surveillance and asymptomatic testing has risen to break the chain of disease transmission and reduce risks to the force and to Department of Defense missions.
In accordance with the DOD Guidance for COVID-19 testing, LRMC, along with other medical components throughout Europe, conducts asymptomatic testing based off different tier classifications, Service Members engaged in missions involving critical national capabilities, Service Members engaged fielded forces and those forward deployed and redeploying forces.
The addition of the high-throughput system can improve turnaround times, allowing forces to continue with their missions, thereby increasing U.S. Armed Forces’ operational readiness throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the U.S. Special Operataions Command.