SA Pathology developed new tests and adapted testing platforms to achieve world-leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SA Pathology sought to establish an early detection and containment response, achieved through a rapid, robust, and scalable testing capability. Within days of the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence being published online, SA Pathology’s scientists had designed primers to ensure an in-house multiplex nucleic acid amplification (NAT) was running by 28 January.
By 31 August, SA Pathology had tested more than 320,000 specimens for SARS-CoV-2, representing more nearly 15% of the state’s population. In the critical early stages of the pandemic in March-April, South Australia had one of the highest testing rates both nationally and internationally and still remains among the highest per capita worldwide. The SARS-CoV-2 was incorporated into the respiratory testing panel at the earliest opportunity to ensure broad community detection.
This was achieved while managing restricted supplies of testing reagents and consumables, forcing a switch in nucleic acid extraction methodologies. SA Pathology began planning for a pandemic during the SARS pandemic, stockpiling reagents to ensure it could rapidly deploy testing of up to 20,000 samples. Experience in the manufacture of targeted primers was SA Pathology’s strongest tool in navigating this particular unprecedented pandemic. SA Pathology’s robust governance structure and close relationship with the public health network enabled the organization to move quickly and efficiently to develop a world-leading detect and contain approach.