Diagnostic testing has been front-and-center since the earliest days of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Labs worldwide have been laser-focused on a slew of issues involving first polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, then antibody tests, and more recently antigen tests—developing, obtaining authorization for, validating and implementing these tests; comparing commercially available assays; maintaining adequate inventory of test kits and the supplies needed to run them; and considering the use case and algorithms for using these tests.
With researchers and clinicians alike continuously learning about SARS-CoV-2, ongoing dialogue among professionals about these issues and more has been crucial. The global lab community has turned time and time again to the SARS-CoV-2 Testing Community on AACC Artery, available to AACC members and other interested parties after a simple registration.
“The virus has produced a global pandemic and this requires a pan-global response in which AACC has been rapidly ready to respond scientifically,” said Carmelo Moreno Sainz, MD, of the department of clinical biochemistry at Hospital Santa Bárbara in Soria, Spain. “It has been important to have AACC, with global membership, to contribute information on the AACC Artery forum from the different scenarios of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.”
Discussions on the SARS-CoV-2 Testing Community have reflected the diversity of issues labs from across the globe are confronting: algorithms for using SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests, concerns about the specificity of PCR tests, and which is the best sample type for SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests.
Veronica Luzzi, PhD, DABCC, FADLM, regional director of chemistry and medical director of the regional core laboratory at Providence Health and Services in Portland, Oregon, especially appreciates the professional exchanges that take place daily on the SARS-CoV-2 Testing Community.
“It provides information at your fingertips from multiple perspectives. Colleagues provide their opinions and links to articles. They pose challenging questions and help me think about a problem differently,” she noted. “I am using it as a source of news, but better than just reading news on a topic. It provides perspective and pros and cons of some of the problems associated with SARS-CoV-2 testing.”
As countries turn to antibody testing as a pathway to relax social distancing, this professional back-and-forth couldn’t be timelier, added Luzzi. “The discussion on antibody testing is particularly interesting because depending on whose publication you read, the conclusions might be slightly different.”
Reaching colleagues far-and-wide for their SARS-CoV-2 testing insights is helping Jennifer Matera MBA, MT(ASCP), laboratory services director at Pullman Regional Hospital in Pullman, Washington, to thrive in a challenging practice environment.
“I used to work for a large reference lab where there were subject matter experts readily available to answer questions and provide explanations,” she said. “Currently, I work for a 25-bed critical access hospital. All of the technical support I was used to is gone, but Artery participants have always come through for me.”
Matero, Luzzi, and Moreno Sainz all emphasized the science-first focus in the SARS-CoV-2 Testing Community when information about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness it causes, is continually evolving. “It is very important to note that AACC is a scientific association of medical laboratorians dedicated to giving the best possible response to their colleagues, free from any political-social dependence other than state-of-the-art knowledge,” stressed Moreno Sainz.
Matero echoed this sentiment. “Responses are based in science, many times cited, or a link to a resource is posted. Information I gather has proved to be invaluable as I use it when speaking with providers to help them understand the laboratory.”
She added: “I honestly do not know if I could perform in my role as well as I do without the thoughtful input and support of all of these wonderful individuals.”
The SARS-CoV-2 Testing Community on AACC Artery is available around the clock to the global lab community. Join the conversation.