MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia University Rapid Development Laboratory may be relatively new, but it has streamlined coronavirus testing and changed how students have returned to campus.
The lab is the byproduct of a $3 million investment announced by Gov. Jim Justice last year; funding from the CARES Act went toward an automated robotic system capable of processing hundreds of polymerase chain reaction samples at one time. The technique is a more reliable method of testing individual samples for the coronavirus, but it takes longer to find results.
“Our turnaround times for a lot of people weren’t just within 24 hours,” said Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president of strategic initiatives. “We actually had people that tested in the morning and we had results by the evening, and for a PCR test that’s unheard of.”
The laboratory allows health officials to process more samples and provide people with results faster. Alsop noted the Rapid Development Laboratory went through several rounds of testing, in which officials evaluated the speed and efficiency of the testing process.
“The RDL lab went through some testing to prove that it was a very accurate PCR test,” he said. “We think it is as accurate as anything out there from an industry-standard perspective.”
Alsop noted the success of laboratory and similar operations has resulted in other labs across the country.
More than 16,000 West Virginia University students and faculty were tested for the coronavirus ahead of the spring semester.