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Primary Hawaii virus testing lab loses services of supplier

HONOLULU — One of Hawaii’s largest COVID-19 testing laboratories lost its continental U.S. supplier of chemicals needed to continue to conduct tests.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc. will no longer receive reagents and other supplies from Roche Diagnostics Corp., one of the largest manufacturers of equipment and supplies for COVID-19 testing.

Dr. Scott Miscovich, who leads broad testing efforts across the islands, said the supply loss means means the state’s testing capacity has been cut in half to about 2,500 daily.

Roche Diagnostics has been forced to direct supplies to hospitals in states where the intensive care units are being overrun with thousands of new cases daily, including Arizona, Florida and Texas, Miscovich said.

“With the surge on the mainland they’re steering towards their big customers,” Miscovich said.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services President Mark Wasielewski said he is devastated the company cannot assist with more testing as needs rise in Hawaii.

The company’s capacity for COVID-19 testing has been reduced from 800 tests per day to 250 tests daily, he said.

“Non-priority testing will be sent to mainland laboratories that may take up to 10 days to perform tests,” Wasielewski said, noting the company continues to explore ways to boost its testing capabilities.

“If reagents can be supplied to our capacity, DLS would be able to perform 2,000 tests per day based on the equipment our company currently has in Hawaii,” he said.

Other laboratories, including Clinical Labs of Hawaii, are working together to address the state’s testing needs, especially for the most critical, hospitalized patients, Miscovich said.

“Unfortunately, this may cause the return of the results to be multiple days instead of the 24-hour turnaround,” Miscovich said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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