Laboratory Practices to Mitigate Biohazard Risks During the COVID-19 Outbreak: An IFCC Global Survey

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2020 Jun 4;/j/cclm.ahead-of-print/cclm-2020-0711/cclm-2020-0711.xml. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2020-0711. Online ahead of print.


Objectives A global survey was conducted by the IFCC Task Force on COVID-19 to better understand how general biochemistry laboratories manage the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical processes to mitigate biohazard risks during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods An electronic survey was developed to record the general characteristics of the laboratory, as well as the pre-analytical, analytical, post-analytical and operational practices of biochemistry laboratories that are managing clinical samples of patients with COVID-19. Results A total of 1210 submissions were included in the analysis. The majority of responses came from hospital central/core laboratories that serve hospital patient groups and handle moderate daily sample volumes. There has been a decrease in the use of pneumatic tube transport, increase in hand delivery and increase in number of layers of plastic bags for samples of patients with clinically suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Surgical face masks and gloves are the most commonly used personal protective equipment (PPE). Just >50% of the laboratories did not perform an additional decontamination step on the instrument after analysis of samples from patients with clinically suspected or confirmed COVID-19. A fifth of laboratories disallowed add-on testing on these samples. Less than a quarter of laboratories autoclaved their samples prior to disposal. Conclusions The survey responses showed wide variation in pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical practices in terms of PPE adoption and biosafety processes. It is likely that many of the suboptimal biosafety practices are related to practical local factors, such as limited PPE availability and lack of automated instrumentation.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; biohazard; biosafety.