Local COVID testing lab offers new speedy testing procedures and technology to the public

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INDIANAPOLIS — A commercial lab in Indy opened new testing procedures along with new technology to the public on Monday. It will allow people to get a PCR COVID test result in eight hours or less.

“Delay in turn around time is mainly because of logistics,” explained Aria Diagnostics President Vipin Adhlakha, talking about other commercial labs. “[Especially] when you’re dealing with multiple organizations.”

Aria handles all aspects of their testing from the swabbing to transportation to the actual testing. Typically they process test results in larger machinery that works 96 or 384 tests at a time.

“You’d have one machine running 384, but that would take six hours,” detailed Adhlakha. “That means we have to wait for that entire run to finish before we can result it.”

With that machine, normally results are back within 48 hours. They have begun running tests nine at a time through smaller test devices. They are boxes about the size of an index card holder. The devices can finish those results in an hour. About three weeks ago, they began offering the expedited tests only to front lines workers just to see if the process would hold up.

“Our current capacity on the same day tests is about 80 to 100 per day,” detailed Adhlakha, “We are looking to triple that.”

Aria offers the expedited tests at a premium charge, but it is covered by insurance.

Adhlakha says people can still get a quick turn around test at hospitals, but believes some commercial labs may still have slower turn around times. Other experts agree.

“If some of those tests are being sent to commercial laboratories they may still be three to four days to gets results back because regionally there is still a high volume of disease,” explained Brian Dixon, director of public health and informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. “Some of the labs in Indiana are processing for seven states for example. Some health departments in the state have shut down their testing sites to focus on vaccine delivery, and so that could cause a bottleneck.”

Dixon says, as a whole, result times in the state are doing quite well right now.

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