COLORADO SPRINGS — Labs across the country don't have enough COVID-19 testing kits to meet the demand. Now, they're facing supply shortages for other tests that detect pneumonia, strep throat, and other illnesses.
If the demand isn't met, experts say patients could be turned away.
“In the beginning, a lot of manufacturers shifted gears and started doing more COVID manufacturing," said Melissa Miller, a clinical director.
In the months ahead, laboratories started facing another threat. Labs are not only facing shortages for COVID test kits but many other routine diagnostic ones.
"Probably the biggest one was for sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia, gonorrhea being the most common ones we diagnose in the labs," Miller explained.
Ramping up COVID-19 testing capacity has caused a shortage of materials needed for these other tests.
“It’s a guessing game, many times we don’t know when the next shipment is coming for some of the items we’re short on,” she said.
Testing shortages in labs are now being tracked with a new data collection tool. The American Society for Microbiology says over 130 labs have been surveyed since September. The first week of the survey, almost 90 percent of the laboratories that responded reported a shortage for tests for STIs.
Miller says today that figure is still too high, around 50%. There are 47% of labs are reporting shortages of testing supplies needed to detect routine bacteria, which causes illnesses like strep throat, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.
The longer labs wait for critical supplies; the more Americans will suffer the consequences.