Screening Test | Fear of supply problem to laboratories

An impressive number of COVID-19 screening tests have been conducted in Quebec over the past two weeks, weakening the stockpile of reagents and other liquids needed for analysis.

Leela Dassault

Leela Dassault

A record number of 64,496 tests were conducted in Quebec on 22 December alone. However, the screening capacity of the province is 50,000 tests per day. The number of tests continued to exceed that number during the holidays.

“The current situation shows that the sampling and analysis capacity is quite high in many regions of Quebec,” admits Robert Maranda, media relations manager at the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS).

Photo David Bowley, Press Archives

Queue at the COVID-19 Screening Center at CLSC de Parc-Extension on December 21

However, stocks of various fluids needed for analysis of tests, such as reagents, may represent a problem, warns a coalition of professional and technical personnel in health and social services. The association represents more than 5,400 members of the analytical laboratories in the province.

Two of them, coming from different regions, agreed to meet with press, He requested anonymity, as he did not have the right to speak publicly on the issue.

“We play on the reagents we have, but we don’t have a month to recover from the coming weeks,” said one of them. In his lab, waiting for an order, the reagents were left for a day, he said.

other missing items

In another laboratory, it was the transport medium, that is, the liquid in the test tube, that was missing: the company responsible could no longer meet demand.

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“At present, the supply of reagents is not a major issue. But there is a problem with respect to the supply of PCR media collection tubes,” confirmed Robert Maranda from MSSS.

These tubes are used exclusively in Roche Cobas automated instruments, which are widely used by many laboratories.

According to the MSSS, this condition affects the regions of Montreal, Capitol-Nationale, Estri and the northern crown of Montreal.

“Several actions have already been taken to ensure that there is no shortfall,” says Mr. Maranda. Other collection tubes and transport media [liquide dans le tube] For example, exclusively saline and molecular water can be used. ,

However, the situation concerns an employee of the laboratory using this device. “We have a plan B, which is to use another transport medium which means we have to do more operations,” she says. But it does not weaken the virus, so we are more likely to infect ourselves. More contamination, more technology, which means more delays. ,

11.2 million rapid tests given in December

Canada’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, confirmed on Twitter on Thursday that the federal government had “provided 11.2 million rapid tests in Quebec for the month of December alone. Quebec’s demand was 10 million.” In an email, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) said the Quebec government was “dependent on deliveries from the federal government.” “However, we confirm that MSSS is currently looking at various options to obtain rapid tests to accelerate their distribution within the population,” said Robert Maranda, MSSS public relations officer. “There will be several million additional tests in the next few weeks,” Minister Duclos also tweeted.

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