The Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL) is teaming up with private Corvallis-based WVT Laboratory to increase novel COVID-19 testing.
As health centers nationwide continue to struggle with limited testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL) at Oregon State University (OSU) is teaming up with the private Corvallis-based WVT Laboratory to increase novel coronavirus testing for medical providers in Oregon and beyond.
The collaboration will be able to run at least 500 tests a day, said Dr. Mark Ackermann, director of the OVDL and a professor and board-certified pathologist in OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. OSU’s veterinary diagnostic lab has the instruments and technical knowledge to run RNA extractions and virus detection on COVID-19 test swabs, but is federally accredited to conduct tests with animal samples, not human samples. WVT normally processes drug tests and has the necessary accreditation, lab infrastructure and experience working with human samples, but lacks the instruments and viral extraction expertise.
Veterinary lab staff have validated and verified the testing protocols and will soon begin processing samples while training WVT staff in some of the testing process, Ackermann said. Medical providers will be able to submit requests and send in samples for COVID-19 testing in the same way they send requests for routine bloodwork, said Manny Cruz, owner of WVT Lab. And because WVT is a national lab, they can accept samples from anywhere in the country, though Cruz said he wants to prioritize local testing needs first.
The OVDL is still handling veterinary cases including rabies diagnostics, herd health, food production health and animal transport. And lab staff are still caring for animal emergencies, and are prepared to test animals for COVID-19 if necessary. The veterinary lab is also working toward getting accreditation to test human samples, as it might be useful in the future, Ackermann said.
The two labs will be able to receive samples from local medical providers, and depending on need, may be called on to run tests for medical centers outside Corvallis or Oregon.
“When (the pandemic) first happened, I thought, ‘Our medical systems here in the U.S. will handle this.’ I didn’t realize they don’t have the capacity we do on the veterinary side,” Ackermann said. “But getting this arrangement — it’s fantastic that we can help.”
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Learn more about the OVDL, and how it produced 3L of viral transport medium for a local hospital to transport test swabs to testing facilities.