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As Coronavirus Testing Gears Up, Specialized Swabs Running Out

Published in: Kaiser Health News

While last week’s critical shortage was a reagent chemical used in the diagnostic tests, now the specialized swabs are in dire demand, according to Soumi Saha, a pharmacist who is the senior director of advocacy for Premier Inc., a group purchasing organization that procures supplies for 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems. As testing finally ramps up in the U.S., hospitals especially are having a hard time getting enough of these swabs, Saha said.

“We have folks that can’t get a hand on any of them right now,” Saha said. “Hospitals want to do their part and want to expand access to testing, but they’re hamstrung by the fact that they can’t access the actual swabs.”

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb pointed out on Twitter on Monday that a lack of swabs could be the new bottleneck even as the number of sites with the capacity to test has increased, showcasing that the weakest link in the supply chain becomes the limiting factor.

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