COVID testing backlogged and improved rapid tests may not be available until the spring

Written by on December 28, 2020

COVID testing backlogged and improved rapid tests may not be available until the spring

By Tyler Pratt

December 28, 2020

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Getting a COVID-19 test could be a challenge over the holidays. Some patients report waiting several hours for a test. And some pharmacies may not be willing to give a test to people who aren’t showing symptoms.  Plus, with more people getting tested, it’s taking longer for labs to return test results.

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50,000 to 80,000 PCR nasal swab tests are being processed every day in Pennsylvania. This is the most since the pandemic began. Labs are swamped.

Micahel Huff is the Director of Testing in PA. He says the state aims for 24-48 hour results.

“But when you’re dealing with a PCR and you’re dealing with a lab you must send the specimen to the lab – they do an analysis and get the result back. It does take a longer period of time.”

Up to 10 days in some cases. There are rapid tests, but they aren’t as reliable. But they aren’t widely available in Pennsylvania. 

“The challenge with antigen tests and they do certainly have a place and we value the challenge, is the accuracy.”

Huff says he thinks more dependable rapid tests will be made available in Pennsylvania. But maybe not until late spring. 

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