McKinsey: Using Logistics To Meet Testing Demands

By Jack Grimshaw
Diagnostic supply shortages continue to impede countries as they look to improve COVID-19 testing - how can this be overcome...

Testing is considered a crucial aspect for tackling and containing the COVID-19 pandemic, but constraints surrounding the supply of diagnostic equipment is significantly hindering a vast majority of countries still struggling with the virus. 

As one of the largest natural crises ever to hit the world, the outbreak of the coronavirus has presented numerous challenges that the majority of countries have found difficult to mitigate. Molecular assays, a technology that focuses and identifies the viral genetic materials and detects the presence of the virus within an individual, and immunoassays, which work to focus on identifying and detecting antigens or antibodies, are the two main types of COVID-19 testing.

Both types are essential to the success of tackling the virus, but the focus of the McKinsey article we’re breaking down is on the molecular-assay testing.

As the method which is widely regarded as the test which is most able to detect active infections, molecular-assay testing requires a number of lab-based resources to meet demands. The United States currently has the capacity to carry out approximately three and a half million molecular assay tests every week, which is significantly below the number required to tackle the pandemic - which currently sits at roughly six million tests per week with a partially reopened country.

The supply of tests needs to be increased dramatically before scientists and doctors can have any hope of meeting the needs of the world. The main obstacles standing in the way of delivering laboratory testing equipments are sample collection, test execution, testing-capacity management, logistics and data management.

Logistics companies, as they have done throughout a number of natural crises and issues throughout history, stand to play a crucial, essential role to successful testing. The supply chain has never been so important, with shipments of components from sources to different locations around the world, from laboratories to hospitals, effective management of logistics must be done right.

The transportation of samples, from the beginning of their journeys at the collection point, right through to the end result in laboratories, is also important to get right. Without the efficient, successful deliveries of these essential goods, labs will be incapable of meeting the worldwide testing targets, which could eventually, potentially, amount to 20 million every day.

Whilst not the largest obstacle standing in the way of identifying cases, logistics is still problematic and could become more of a challenge for countries attempting to improve detection, as demand will continue to rise exponentially and pressure will be constantly added.

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