Image: Matt Monath Photography
A lab dedicated to processing New York City coronavirus tests within 24 to 48 hours officially opened on Thursday. The “Pandemic Response Lab” is located in the Alexandria Center for Life Science on First Avenue and East 29th Street in Manhattan. The lab, led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation and run by robotics company Openetrons, will expand testing capacity citywide while also providing a quicker turnaround time to get results from samples collected at NYC Health + Hospitals sites.
By not relying on big laboratories, the city’s own lab hopes to shorten the wait time for test results, which took more than six days for some New Yorkers early on in the crisis. According to the city, the turnaround time for COVID-19 tests has improved, with more than 80 percent of tests coming backing back within 72 hours.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the new lab will be able to process about 20,000 tests per day by November.
Since opening last week, the lab has so far processed 4,000 tests. The “PRL” tests cost NYC just $28 each, a third of what the city was paying bigger labs, including QuestDiagnostics. Results are promised within 24 to 48 hours at the city lab.
“With New York City’s infection rate and hospitalizations at their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, we know that our strategy of widespread testing and tracing is working,” de Blasio said. “The PRL will build on our city’s reputation as a world leader in making testing available to everyone.”
The city will soon kick off a rapid COVID-19 testing design competition, seeking an affordable test that will produce results in just 15 minutes. According to the NYCEDC, the testing need in the city are “point-of-care and at-home COVID tests that can deliver results in minutes, rather than hours and that may be self-administered.”
“Slow lab results are holding back our city’s recovery. Pandemic Response Lab has been designed to help fix that,” Opentrons CEO Jon Brennan-Badal said in a statement last week.
“We have paired experts in genetics and clinical diagnostics with cutting-edge automation and robotics that will allow us to deliver lab results to New Yorkers in 24 hours. Nothing is more important to us than helping our city respond to the pandemic. The pace of our recovery will depend on the speed and accuracy of citywide testing.”
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