Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a new COVID-19 test to test virus samples in on-campus Blacksburg and Roanoke labs.
According to VT News, the researchers at Virginia Tech are helping combat with backlogs and critical resource shortages at labs and hospitals. The testing will help health departments identify patients who might have COVID-19.
“We were alarmed that the backlogs at testing labs seemed to be growing without much relief, which makes it difficult to treat patients appropriately and to contain the pandemic guided by timely, accurate data,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion (VTC), in the VT News article. “With so many scientists at the forefront of biomedical technology, facilities, and expertise — we were confident our teams could develop assays and make a meaningful contribution.”
Virginia Tech received emergency permission from the FDA to begin COVID-19 testing, Friedlander said.
Moreover, according to the article, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed Virginia Tech to begin testing after issuing an Emergency Use Authorization Monday, April 20. The review of the validation is currently pending, and the university will be notified when the FDA grants approval.
Health departments will still be the ones collecting patient samples, not the labs. Schiffert Student Health Center at Virginia Tech is one of those locations.
“We have the scientific expertise to address the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the state and the world,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in the article. “Diagnostic health testing may not be part of our normal academic and research routine, but when lives are at stake, it is Virginia Tech’s role to take action and make a difference wherever we can.”
Other Virginia college campuses have offered new COVID-19 testing samples as well.
UVA Health offered testing across the state in late March for the same reason: to assist hospitals with more tests available. Its university testing system allows for more than 200 tests per day, while the health system offers up to 50 tests per day.
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System developed in-house testing for COVID-19 during a pilot program with the goal of determining quickly COVID-19 symptoms to rule out COVID-19 diagnoses.
As Virginia Tech researchers are working around-the-clock on COVID-19 testing, the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Virginia seem to be increasing daily. As of Tuesday, April 21, there have been 324 deaths, 1,581 hospitalizations and 9,630 cases in the state according to the Virginia Department of Health, and 58,354 people have been tested.