Nebraska Public Health Lab on forefront of COVID-19 testing

To support the National Quarantine Unit, they were the first to get the coronavirus kits from the CDC.
Corona In A Bottle

During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory was the first state public health lab to test positive specimens in the United States.

Now, the lab is on the leading edge of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have access to a lot of experts in a lot of different areas of science, we are not just a laboratory that tests kits but we actually look at the science behind kits,” said Director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, Dr. Pete Iwen.

Technologists in the lab have been working long hours to keep up with the demand of testing specimens.

To support the National Quarantine Unit, they were the first to get the coronavirus kits from the CDC.

“The CDC got in contact with us and says you know, we’re going to put you on a fast track – you’re going to be one of the first public health laboratories in the nation to get this test kit because you have a need for it right now,” said Iwen.

UNMC has been working with health districts, they’re acting as a go–between – of who actually should get tested so they don’t burn out of all of the supplies.

“That’s the message that we’re trying to get out there, to say not everybody has coronavirus – everybody with a sniffle doesn’t need to be tested,” said Iwen.

The lab was only one of three public health laboratories who could pass an initial verification process. It led to a national review of the CDC assay to determine why most labs were not able to pass the process.

“There’s a lot of things that could play into what happened but the point is we did have a test and we were able to keep that test operational and have it available for our medical staff,” said Iwen.

Dr. Iwen said the lab worked with the CDC to help define the problem which ultimately led to a re-manufactured kit. The kit has now successfully been placed into most of the nation’s public health labs.

 

 

Categories: Health