The Food and Drug Administration has approved new testing solutions for COVID-19 created at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State.
In mid-March, a team of scientists at the medical center began developing a “recipe” for the solution that would allow hospitals and labs to test for the viral disease and combat the shortage of tests. Within 24 hours, the team developed a liquid called viral transport media, which is a salt solution designed to stabilize the virus during transport, according to a medical center release.
“Because of this new viral transport media, thousands of people will be tested for COVID-19 who otherwise would have had no other option,” Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the medical center, said in a press release Friday.
This comes at a time when the components to test for COVID-19, such as the swabs and transport media, are in a “critical shortage,” according to the release.
The medical center staff also collaborated with faculty and staff in the College of Engineering and the College of Dentistry to create and 3D print more than 50,000 swabs to be used for testing, according to the release.
About 50,000 people in Ohio have been tested for the virus, but the state still lacks enough test kits required, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said in a press conference Tuesday.
“We are struggling to keep up the testing even at the pace we are,” Acton said. “There’s just a scarcity. It’s not our state. It’s everywhere. And we’re on allotments of a small amount of the necessary ingredients.”
At the time of publication, there are 5,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 1,162 hospitalizations; 213 deaths; and 55,985 people who have been tested in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health website.
Each test kit requires about one tablespoon of the transport media, and so far, Ohio State has created enough for 30,000 kits, according to the release.
Thomas said the key to making testing more widely available is sharing the viral transport media recipe and the actual solution with other health systems.
“This has been a team effort across the medical center, university and our colleagues across the state. The coronavirus crisis has mobilized the scientific community, and I’m pleased to see how quickly we’re exchanging ideas of what works and what doesn’t work,” Peter J. Mohler, vice dean of research at the College of Medicine and director of the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, said in the release.
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