WINNIPEG - Some labs in Manitoba are at risk of running out of an essential piece of equipment they need in a COVID-19 testing process. Shared Health has put in an urgent request for filtered plastic tips used in “RT-PCR” testing, a rapid laboratory processing method, and is calling on scientists and researchers for supply donations.
Dr. Philippe Lagace-Wiens, a microbiology professor at the University of Manitoba and medical microbiologist for Shared Health's Diagnostic Services says they’re in “desperate need'' of tips, and reached out to his colleagues at the U of M, predicting that some facilities will run out of supplies this weekend. The small plastic cones are used to prevent the pipette used in testing from being contaminated between specimens, and are discarded after each use.
According to Shared Health, the province’s shortage of pipette tips is a symptom of limited availability worldwide, and many other Canadian labs are facing the same problem. The Government of Manitoba has made arrangements with alternative suppliers, and says their procurement team is working on supply sourcing to ensure impacts on service will be avoided. Brampton, Ontario-based lab firm Dynacare acknowledges they’ve noticed a shortage of pipette tips, but says there’s technology available that would allow an impact on testing to be avoided.