OTTAWA – World-wide shortages of a Swiss pharmaceutical company’s crucial chemical for COVID-19 testing, along with staff shortages, are hampering Ontario’s laboratory system as the province deals with record numbers of tests.
On Thursday, Ontario reported 797 cases of COVID-19 across the province after performing 48,500 tests, a new record number for tests in a single day. Still, there are nearly 60,000 tests waiting to be completed, down from nearly 90,000 tests last week.
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The province’s testing system relies heavily on instruments from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. Their machines use a proprietary reagent chemical that only Roche manufacturers and the company has struggled to keep up with demand.
Reagents are chemicals used in lab tests that are added to samples taken from patients and then analyzed.
Premier Doug Ford has said several times this week the shortages are a major problem for the province and he has been calling the company’s Canadian CEO regularly to try and ensure the province is supplied.