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UC San Diego, Manufacturers Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

A lab worker prepares samples to be tested for COVID-19 in San Diego, Feb. 28, 2020.
Matt Hoffman
A lab worker prepares samples to be tested for COVID-19 in San Diego, Feb. 28, 2020.

UC San Diego Health and UCSD School of Medicine announced Friday that the university's Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine is significantly ramping up testing for COVID-19, projecting a capacity to complete 1,000 to 1,500 tests per day within two to three weeks.

The interdisciplinary team of scientists and physicians from the school and hospital partnered with five in vitro diagnostics manufacturers in the effort — Thermo Fisher Scientific, Roche Diagnostics, GenMark Diagnostics, Luminex Corporation and Abbott Diagnostics.

"UC San Diego has always been a recognized national leader in developing industry partnerships for the greater good," UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said. "This achievement is a perfect example of brilliant minds in the public and private sectors coming together to solve real-world issues and drive innovation. These partnerships are creative, compelling and incredibly important for all of us in these difficult times."


Patty Maysent, CEO of UCSD Health, agreed.

"These partnerships, executed with unprecedented urgency and speed, signify extraordinary, meaningful progress. They represent greater access soon to COVID-19 testing, not just for our patients and health care workers, but hopefully the larger community in need," she said.

UCSD Health has been conducting in-house COVID-19 testing since March 10. The in-house testing was among the first such efforts in the nation, hospital officials said, producing results in hours, rather than days or weeks.

But emerging and widespread challenges across health systems and the nation involving shortages of required chemicals and materials has limited testing to only persons meeting strict diagnostic criteria, such as clear symptoms of disease or known exposure to the virus.

The Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine houses the majority of UCSD Health's clinical laboratories, diagnostic services and related research activities.


Dr. Ronald McLawhon, director of the center and UCSD's clinical laboratories, said the facility has been revamped to redirect additional personnel and resources to COVID-19 testing.

"Our entire clinical team understands the importance of this effort in fighting a global pandemic," McLawhon said. "Many of our most skilled laboratory, technical and management staff have been working around-the- clock."