If you had asked anyone at CARO in 2019 what our plans were for 2020, becoming an accredited diagnostic laboratory, processing thousands of patient samples a week in support of British Columbia’s fight against a deadly virus would have been an unlikely answer. Sure, we already spent our days generating quality reliable data through environmental, food and cannabis testing. But none of us could have predicted that 2020 would bring an overwhelming need for diagnostic testing. Luckily, CARO’s Charismatic Scientists are always up for a challenge…
SARS-COV-2 brought with it a swift end to any momentum industries were carrying into 2020, and a wave of uncertainty around the social and economic implications of a pandemic. When the World began saying “test, test, test” our contribution was obvious – this is the analyst’s rallying cry, after all! We knew we couldn’t just sit on the sidelines as the need for COVID-19 response support in Canada escalated. At the time there was no clear picture of what the COVID-19 testing landscape would look like. Technology, regulations and requirements were all evolving rapidly. That said, we were sure of one thing, CARO could add value by doing what we do best – generating high-quality, reliable data.
Diagnostic testing seemed at first a far cry from our day-to-day business. We learned very quickly, however, that there were many parallels. In our existing industries (environmental, food and cannabis), professionals use high-quality data to make critical decisions for the protection of environmental and public health. Every day, we rely on the latest technology to identify and respond to unseen threats. Every day, we use complex, large-scale screening programs, many spanning multiple decades, to monitor key trends and identify health threats before they become public or environmental health emergencies. In turning our attention to SARS-CoV-2, we realized that the same tools and expertise could be used to prevent localized outbreaks of this deadly virus.
So, in August 2020, CARO began testing human swab samples for SAR-COV-2 using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, the gold standard in SARS-CoV-2 testing around the world. We became one of only two laboratories in British Columbia able to respond to the need for private COVID-19 testing, during a time when accreditation for private labs was not yet available. Over the past seven months, our data has helped to keep thousands of British Colombians safely employed, positively impacting not only those individuals being tested but also the service industries that support them.
At the end of 2020, an accreditation plan for private labs in BC was initiated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia Diagnostic Accreditation Program (DAP) and CARO was primed to participate. As of March 11, 2021, we are proud to announce that CARO has achieved accreditation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia DAP for Viral Identification by PCR, for SARS-CoV-2 screening. We are the only BC-based, employee-owned laboratory to achieve this accreditation to date.
So here we are, a year into the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a new accreditation in our cap and a fresh appreciation for the years of work that our industry has put in to developing testing standards, administering accreditation programs, and continually raising the bar that defines quality in our industry. We want to extend a sincere Thank You to the various regulatory bodies who constantly push us to develop industry-leading technology, to our clients who design programs that demand the highest standards in data quality, to the accrediting bodies who keep us at our sharpest, and lastly to our partner/competitor/arch-nemesis labs who continually challenge us to think outside the box. Together we have created a system that is relied upon to help defeat COVID-19.
,Whitehorse, YT, Y1A0A8, Canada