Digital First: USM lab offers COVID-19 results in 24-hours for students

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – A professor in the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi is using his expertise in infectious diseases and cell and molecular biology to ensure COVID-19 tests conducted at USM’s Moffitt Health Center will produce results within 24 hours.

Dr. Mohamed Elasri is the director of USM’s Center for Molecular and Cellular Biosciences. He turned existing resources at the Accelerator Lab into testing centers for COVID-19 tests when the virus was first reported in Mississippi in March. At the time, he was helping the Hattiesburg Clinic with testing.

With the fall semester approaching, Elasri focused his testing capacity to solely assist USM’s clinic on the Hattiesburg campus. Now, COVID-19 tests taken at Moffitt Health Center will be sent to Elasri’s lab located at the Accelerator. Results will be available within 24 hours. The lab currently has the capacity to return 100 results each day.

Four full-time technicians are producing this turnaround in Elasri’s lab. The test is a standard PCR test, which is the most accurate test and the one recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The staff has already begun testing and will be prepared once students begin classes on August 17, with the capability of quickly increasing testing capacity should the need arise.

24 hour testing results made possible through three step process with machines such as QI Asymphony, QI Agility and Bio-Rad.

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