Company Hopes New Menlo Park Lab Will Double Capacity of PCR Testing During Surges

The lab describes itself as the largest and most affordable PCR testing center in the country.

NBC Universal, Inc.

When the omicron hit, the nation was caught off guard. And how can that happen after fighting the coronavirus for the last 2 years?

At the SummerBio in Menlo Park, they feel that they have solved that problem.

“Anything where you’re trying to detect the genetic signal, like RNA or DNA, this can easily adapt to do,” said SummerBio co-founder Sasha Seletsky.

The lab describes itself as the largest and most affordable PCR testing center in the country.

They get COVID test results within 24 hours, with or without a surge.

“About 10 to 15 people per shift and we’re able to run about 120-thousand samples per day through this lab,” Seletsky said. Right now, the company is running samples from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Officials said that their secret weapon is automation. They said that because so much is automated in the lab that they can increase testing capacity within hours of a surge, and can just as easily slow down the process with a drop in cases.

“We have a lean but high quality staff that’s able to do a huge amount of testing volume and do it very quickly . For testing to be relevant, it has to be turned around quickly,” Dave Scheinman, SummerBio’s president.

So when Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s heath doctor outlined California’s endemic plan on thursday the lab was listening closely.

“If we see a signal of increased transmission in this region, we’ve got to flood the zone with tests,” said California Health And Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

Which is one of the reasons SummerBio is moving to a new warehouse in Menlo Park this spring.

The new lab will be able to double its current production, using machines they designed and built.

Scheinman said there’s no reason the nation should be caught off-guard when the next surge arrives.

“It doesn’t have to be that way. We can be ready, be responsive as a nation and we can respond to the needs of whatever this pandemic or the next pandemic throws at us,” he said.

The lab said it’s ready whenever the state calls for help, hoping to lead the fight against the coronavirus.

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