These Labs Rushed to Test for Coronavirus. They Had Few Takers. – By Katie Thomas – The New York Times

“When a stay-at-home order in March all but closed the revered labs of the gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna, her team at the University of California, Berkeley dropped everything and started testing for the coronavirus.

They expected their institute to be inundated with samples since it was offering the service for free, with support from philanthropies. But there were few takers.

Instead, the scientists learned, many local hospitals and doctors’ offices continued sending samples to national laboratory companies — like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics — even though, early on, patients had to wait a week or more for results. The bureaucratic hurdles of quickly switching to a new lab were just too high.

“It’s still amazing to me, like, how can that be the case, that there is not a more systematic way to address a central need?” said Fyodor Urnov, the scientist who oversaw the transformation of the Innovative Genomics Institute into a clinical laboratory.”

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David Lindsay: This is the most confusing and bizarre and disturbing story by Katie Thomas, on why testing did not take off in the United States. She reports it could have. We had the labs and scientists in great number, but there was no Federal leadership, or organization, to take the various parts and bring them together, the red tape and barriers of entry, were greater than the forces of cooperation. Apparently, hospitals and governments didn’t see how to fund going to a local, testing organization, that wasn’t strongly recommended and financially supported. It appears it all failed to happen due to a lack of Federal leadership. I also must agree with all the commenters here, who say the tests failed to succeed because the players couldn’t figure out how to profit from them. A health system that puts private corporate profits ahead of the public health, pretty clearly fails to get the jog done of protecting public health. That is us not protected, we are the public.

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