A College of American Pathologists (CAP) survey of board-certified pathologists nationwide showed 45% of laboratories testing for covid-19 have difficulties obtaining the testing supplies they need. While this represents an improvement since last summer, shortages still represent a substantial burden on those laboratories diagnosing coronavirus disease and require national attention to mitigate disruptions.

“Access to testing supplies ultimately affects our ability to provide an accurate, timely diagnosis,” says CAP President Patrick Godbey, MD, FCAP. “Our survey shows that recent actions by the White House and legislative efforts to invest in the production of testing supplies are appropriate and on target. Laboratories are struggling to get the supplies they need. Americans should continue to follow the scientific recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

In this latest survey, the respondents reported continued difficulties acquiring testing supplies, such as reagents (45%) and pipette tips (30%), within the last three months. A significant number of survey respondents also experienced difficulties obtaining other covid-19 testing supplies: nearly 20% reported difficulties securing supplies such as SARS-CoV-2 instruments (19%), flocked nasopharyngeal swabs (18%), and viral transport media/universal transport media (17%).

The survey also asked pathologists about vaccination and vaccine access for their staff. Ninety-four percent reported that pathologists in their practice have access to the covid-19 vaccination, and 89% reported that they, themselves, have been vaccinated. When asked about laboratory staff gaining access to the covid-19 vaccine, pathologists reported that 82% of phlebotomists and 83% of laboratory testing personnel in a hospital have been vaccinated. However, just 39% of testing personnel in independent laboratories have received the vaccine.

The CAP is engaged with the Biden administration as it fights the covid-19 pandemic, especially those elements of the new strategy concerning diagnostic testing.

This latest CAP’s covid-19 Pathologist Impact Survey was fielded to all board-certified pathologists from January 27 through February 11. The CAP received 680 responses, constituting a 4.6% response rate, making the sample nationally representative with a +/-3.7 margin of error. The CAP routinely conducts socioeconomic surveys to inform its advocacy.