FROM THE DAILY SCAN: POOLED SAMPLES AT ST. PAUL’S HOSPITAL HELP INCREASE CAPACITY FOR MORE COVID-19 TESTING
At the beginning of the summer, there were fewer than 3000 new COVID-19 tests done in B.C. each day. But Dr. Dan Holmes knew that likely wouldn’t last. As part of B.C.’s coordinated approach to COVID-19 testing, he and his team at St. Paul’s Hospital, along with their counterparts across the Provincial Laboratory Medicine Services (PLMS) and the regional health authorities, had already started planning how they could quickly scale up the numbers of tests they could perform in their laboratories.
Fast forward a few months to September. Dr. Holmes, Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at St. Paul’s, did his first trial run using a different technique: pooled sample testing. As he explains, the idea is quite simple, “If you have a group of people where the chance of finding a positive is less than five percent, you can take individual samples and put them in the same well and test them together. If the collective result comes out negative, we can infer that everyone in that pool is negative also.”