Labs

These Labs Rushed to Test for Coronavirus. They Had Few Takers.

When a stay-at-home order in March all but closed the revered labs of the gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna, her team at the University of California, Berkeley dropped everything and started testing for the coronavirus.

They expected their institute to be inundated with samples since it was offering the service for free, with support from philanthropies. But there were few takers.

Instead, the scientists learned, many local hospitals and doctors’ offices continued sending samples to national laboratory companies — like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics — even though, early on, patients had to wait a week or more for results. The bureaucratic hurdles of quickly switching to a new lab were just too high.

“It’s still amazing to me, like, how can that be the case, that there is not a more systematic way to address a central need?” said Fyodor Urnov, the scientist who oversaw the transformation of the Innovative Genomics

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C.D.C. Labs Were Contaminated, Delaying Coronavirus Testing, Officials Say

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., and other health experts have long suggested that contamination in the labs might have been the culprit. But even as several officials at the F.D.A. late this week cited contamination as the cause, a spokesman for the C.D.C., Benjamin Haynes, asserted that it was still just a possibility and that the agency was still awaiting the formal findings of H.H.S.

In a statement, however, he acknowledged that the agency’s quality control measures were insufficient during the coronavirus test development. Since then, he said, “C.D.C. implemented enhanced quality control to address the issue and will be assessing the issue moving forward.”

Initially, the C.D.C. was responsible for creating a coronavirus test that state and local public health agencies could use to diagnose Covid-19 in people, and then isolate them to prevent the spread of the disease.

“It was just tragic,” said Scott

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