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Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., weighs in on pooled molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2

Jan. 29, 2021

A recent story on 360 Dx explored the prevalence and usefulness of pooled molecular testing for SARS-CoV-2 — a method that, early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to have the potential to conserve resources and boost lab testing capacity. Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was one of the experts featured in the story.

Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D.

Dr. Binnicker noted that, although pooling seemed like it might be a solution to the problem of limited COVID-19 testing resources, such as reagents, Mayo Clinic Laboratories decided against it due to daunting logistics. "For a large reference lab like ours, with the number of samples we were testing on a daily basis, that logistical challenge was pretty significant," he says. "You can run into some issue mixing up test results and misreporting, and we were concerned about that."

He noted that few laboratories in the U.S. currently are engaged in pooled SARS-CoV-2 testing.

Dr. Binnicker also discussed sensitivity issues that can surface when pooling tests are used in populations with high positivity rates — issues that may lead to positive cases going undetected. He went on to note, however, that pooling might be a useful option going forward when testing groups that have a low prevalence of the infection, such as students.

Read the full story.

Tracy Will

Tracy Will is a senior marketing specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories where she covers innovation, specialty testing, and advances in laboratory medicine. Tracy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2016.