The Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Lab at LSU Health Shreveport has processed over 110,000 COVID-19 test samples from multiple public health regions of the state and created over 170,000 test kits, which were distributed throughout the state during its first six months of operation.
Andrew Yurochko, professor of microbiology and immunology at LSU Health Shreveport, said for a small lab, the numbers are impressive.
“Obviously those are huge numbers,” Yurochko said. “But when you think about total tests, you know, 0.1% of the total tests of the entire country are done right here in Northwest Louisiana, where we’ve focused on our own citizens, not just in Shreveport or Caddo Parish, but in all of Region 7 which is Northwest Louisiana.”
Data from the EVT Lab is also contributing to understanding the COVID-19 genetic code in Louisiana and how the virus arrived in the state. That data is being shared with the national genome databank.
“We can look at what viruses are in Louisiana and ask where they came from,” said Yurochko. “So, did they come, and a lot of them we learned when Mardi Gras hit early on, only a very single sort – it must have been a single insertion into Louisiana, or a very limited number because all the sequences look very similar.”
The lab is also developing new testing capabilities that will allow for flu and COVID-19 tests to be done together.
“We'll get a swab, or, you know, get a sample, and we can test for flu and the coronavirus in one sample and get you an answer,” said Yurochko. “So I'm sick. I've got flu-like symptoms. Is it the flu or is it the coronavirus? And we can give you an answer, or we will be able to give an answer by time flu season really runs around, and these are things that I think that not every lab can do.”
Currently, the EVT Lab is processing 0.13% of all daily testing in the U.S.