Across every industry and every profession, 2020 has been a year of seismic change and challenging paradigm shifts. Yet amidst the stress of this pandemic there have also been opportunities for problem-solving, innovation, and collaboration. A2LA has needed to dramatically re-imagine the assessment process without sacrificing precision or integrity, which has only been possible because of the close, communicative relationships we maintain with our accredited organizations. Feedback from our customers has helped us develop an effective remote assessment process, which has in turn allowed our customers to keep their accreditation schedules on track and continue operating. This has been a dynamic undertaking, with our customers showing us how to best help them at every turn, and A2LA assessors and accreditation officers have continuously used customer input to shape their responses.
On June 10, 2020 Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab), based in Clearwater, Florida, expanded their scope of accreditation to cover environmental testing for SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19, and the test developed by EDLab is designed to determine virus presence and persistence on hard surfaces. This is particularly applicable to doors, tables, elevator buttons, and other frequently touched surfaces that have the potential to transmit coronavirus in shared spaces. EDLab was among the first A2LA-accredited laboratories to become accredited for this type of testing, which is an important part of the effort to control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risks associated with using shared spaces.
On May 21st, the A2LA-accredited laboratory Source Molecular Corporation (SMC) introduced testing services for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on wastewater, air, and surfaces. They are the first A2LA-accredited laboratory to conduct this type of SARS-CoV-2 testing, which is covered by their flexible scope of accreditation. SMC, a Florida-based molecular testing lab, provides innovative technology to help solve pathogenic water, air and surface pollution problems through source tracking, genetic and molecular techniques, and test kits. These new tests, developed to help address the spread of coronavirus, are a timely complement to their longstanding mission. A2LA updated SMC’s scope in 2019 when their accreditation was renewed, which enabled them to add these new tests in response to the ongoing global pandemic.
ALS, an international provider of laboratory services headquartered in Australia, has recently expanded the scope of accreditation at their largest US laboratory to include a test for the detection of the novel coronavirus on surfaces. This ALS laboratory is among the first laboratories to be accredited by A2LA for this kind of testing. With many US states beginning to “reopen” the need to test frequently contacted surfaces for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is becoming an even more crucial part of efforts to curtail the spread of the disease. A2LA has been committing extra resources to process and evaluate scope expansions for tests such as these thoroughly and expediently to support the scientific community in fighting this pandemic. Accreditation by an impartial, third-party accreditation body such as A2LA is a critical indicator of the quality of newly produced tests and methods.
Oneworld Accuracy, a Vancouver-based proficiency testing provider, recently contacted A2LA with a request to expand their scope of accreditation to cover their newly developed COVID-19 proficiency testing program under ISO/IEC 17043. Due to the severity of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, A2LA and Oneworld Accuracy immediately began working together to complete the scope expansion on an accelerated timeline, and the new scope was issued on April 17th. Proficiency testing (commonly called external quality assessment or EQA in the clinical realm) evaluates the analytical performance of participants by comparing it to pre-established clinical criteria via interlaboratory comparison. This process is critical to ensuring accurate laboratory testing methods and reliable test results. Oneworld Accuracy’s COVID-19 program is uniquely positioned to play a key role in the global effort to control the spread of coronavirus.