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Members of Traceability in Laboratory Medicine network support COVID-19 response

EMN TraceLabMed members contribute to improving the accuracy and quality of coronavirus testing procedures

The coronavirus lockdown has stopped large parts of the world in its tracks. Now, as the first wave of the infection starts to come to an end in several European countries, governments are facing decisions concerning the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. Policy-makers must refer to figures to influence these crucial decisions, where the rate of accrual of new infections for any given population is a particularly important consideration.

Reliable testing results are therefore essential to delineate true cases from other, non-coronavirus, but similar symptoms. In response to this urgent need, healthcare professionals, laboratory medicine specialists and diagnostic assay developers around the world have come together and focused their efforts to develop accurate and reliable tests for detecting COVID-19.

EURAMET’s Metrology Network for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine

Members of EURAMET’s European Metrology Network for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (EMN TraceLabMed) are playing an important role in this response to our global public health crisis. As a specialised network focused on laboratory testing, TraceLabMed is building a coordinated metrology-based infrastructure to enhance the validity of in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) that influence the vast majority of medical decisions made over a patient’s lifetime.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, TraceLabMed members have strived to support worldwide healthcare systems in a time of immense public health pressures - by providing metrological expertise for diagnostic medical devices and tests, participating in an international ring trial to assess the performance of potential reference methods for COVID-19 testing, and outlining reference values for common reference materials to enhance infection diagnostic capabilities.

Traceability for COVID-19 tests

The testing procedure for the coronavirus is often complicated by the stage of the infection in patients. Moreover, the lack of sensitivity of tests can result in a large proportion of the infections at any given time point being missed, and results can also vary wildly for different test providers. Due to the urgent need for quick test results, many tests have been developed and have gained European market access under the still-applicable in vitro diagnostic directive (IVDD).

To compare the quality of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, testing laboratories are making use of well-characterised common reference materials. In fact, members of TraceLabMed are working to develop metrological tools that can answer a multitude of important questions surrounding the quality of testing – from the limits of detection and quantification, to the precision of measurements of known reference substance amounts in a sample. The institutes’ continuing efforts will shed valuable insight into the most preferable tests available across Europe, and ultimately, support the advancement of testing and diagnoses for the coronavirus infection.

Contact the EMN

If you wish to become a member or partner of the network, request help, or if you have any other questions, please contact us via TraceLabMed’s website: www.euramet.org/laboratory-medicine.

To see an interview of one of our EMN members, please feel free to visit this webpage on INRIM’s (the National Metrology Institute of Italy) website: Interview with Carla Divieto.

To find out more about the metrology network’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit EURAMET’s new webpage: Traceability in Laboratory Medicine - the COVID-19 response.


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