In August 2021, Awanui laboratories completed its 1 millionth COVID-19 test as part of the national response to eliminating COVID-19 in New Zealand – the largest testing volume for a single provider.
COVID-19 testing by Awanui has been, and continues to be, delivered by our national laboratory network including Labtests Auckland, Wellington SCL, MedLab South, Canterbury SCL and Southern Community Laboratories in what can only be described as an impressive display of collaboration.
It was just 17 months earlier that the first commercial COVID-19 test was developed from scratch and introduced into laboratories at incredible pace. The focus then turned to rapidly setting up as many laboratories as we could nationally, using tests appropriate for each laboratory’s particular skills and resources.
Throughout the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 we collaborated with the universities, and a number of agricultural laboratories, including our Gribbles Veterinary laboratory in Palmerston North. The Gribbles Veterinary laboratory would normally use PCR tests to test livestock for infectious diseases, but transformed into a satellite laboratory for COVID-19 testing under the wings of Wellington SCL. The lab proudly obtained IANZ accreditation for COVID-19 testing.
Beyond the labs our personnel redeployed into whichever areas of the business needed their help. We saw patient services and technicians become couriers, phlebotomists turn to sample receipting, and teams pouring out into their hallways to make more room for incoming samples.
The Awanui laboratory network were heading towards the 1 millionth test milestone the same week the first Delta variant of COVID-19 was detected in the community in New Zealand. Again, the lab network and our 2,000+ staff rose to the challenge to meet the significant surge in COVID-19 testing and delivered record breaking testing numbers once again.
By the end of August, the national COVID-19 testing volume reached 3 million tests.