Illustrations: Simone Noronha

Scientists Are Racing to Get Us Faster, Simpler Coronavirus Tests

Rapid and at-home tests could give results in minutes rather than days

Emily Mullin
Published in
11 min readApr 15, 2020

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DDr. John Tomaszewski has been working 16-hour days since the new coronavirus hit Buffalo, New York in mid-March. Though it’s a six-hour drive from the pandemic’s epicenter in New York City, Buffalo and the surrounding county has experienced a troubling surge in infections, racking up more than 1,700 cases and 101 deaths as of April 14.

As head of the laboratory at Kaleida Health, a nonprofit network of hospitals, Tomaszewski has been running coronavirus diagnostic tests nonstop. Even so, his efforts haven’t been nearly enough for the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, which is home to around 1.1 million people. With equipment donated from the University at Buffalo, where he is a professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, he has increased the number of tests his lab can run per day from 90 to about 300. He is hoping to double or triple that capacity soon, but he worries that will still fall short.

“We’re nowhere near the amount of testing you’d want to do in our region,” he says. Ideally, he’d like to be able to do at least 1,000 tests a day.

Labs across the country, much like Tomaszweski’s, not only need more tests but faster ones…

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Emily Mullin
OneZero

Former staff writer at Medium, where I covered biotech, genetics, and Covid-19 for OneZero, Future Human, Elemental, and the Coronavirus Blog.