Recognizing the scarcity of molecular testing on the island and with the concern that the number of tests needs to be increased to lessen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and its Puerto Rico Public Health Trust program have joined forces with CienciaPR, Yale University, and a group of academic scientists under the COVID-19 Clinical Laboratory Working Group.
This effort seeks solutions to existing barriers to conducting molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 with an initial goal of exceeding 1,000 tests per day “as soon as possible,” group representatives said.
“Scientifically, it is only with molecular testing that we can determine true active positive patients by measuring the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Health Trust Executive Director José F. Rodríguez-Orengo.
“Once people resume their daily routines, infections may increase. It will be necessary to do molecular tests during the next few weeks and maybe months to have a picture of the real situation in Puerto Rico, particularly now with the staggered opening of the economy,” he said.
That said, the clinical reference laboratories in the COVID-19 Clinical Laboratory Working Group have sought solutions to increase testing for the virus, negotiating and purchasing kits; and acquiring new equipment. Now, the labs have the medical technology staff, the reagents and equipment to produce hundreds of samples per day.
Together, the labs — Borinquen Laboratories, Core Plus Laboratories, Immuno Reference Laboratories, Ponce Health Sciences University, Quest Laboratories, and Toledo Laboratories — already produce more than 1,200 samples per day.