The University of Arizona Health Sciences shipped 250 COVID-19 sample collection kits to the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona, today to help in the international effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
"On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I wish to extend a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of the gracious and hardworking staff and volunteers that contributed their hard work and resources to these COVID-19 collection kits," said Navajo Nation Speaker of the Council Seth Damon. "Knowing we have a willing partner in the University of Arizona gives us greater hope that our people will overcome this together."
Facing a major statewide and national shortage of COVID-19 collection kits, David Harris, professor of immunobiology and director of the Biorepository in the UArizona College of Medicine –Tucson, and volunteers from his laboratory produced more than 1,650 collection kits in the last week. Harris plans to produce 500 kits a day if the lab receives additional swabs – one of the components of the collection kit – which are needed to produce thousands of additional kits over the next two weeks to offset a shortage in Southern Arizona and beyond.
Earlier this week, UArizona delivered 1,000 collection kits to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson over a two-day period.
"Regrettably, the Navajo Nation has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus and needs these tests to help protect their community," said University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. "We are sending these sample collection kits in the hopes they can assist in their efforts to address COVID-19, and we thank the president, the speaker and the council for their tireless work."
The UArizona Biorepository provides clinically annotated specimens and services to the research community and other institutions involved in biomedical research. In addition, it collects, catalogues and distributes human biological samples with associated pertinent clinical data to facilitate translational research and help investigators accomplish their research aims.
The production of COVID-19 collection kits is a collaboration between dedicated teams of scientists from the Biorepository and the UArizona BIO5 Institute. Harris' team also has worked in partnership with Laboratory Sciences of Arizona and Sonora Quest Laboratories and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory to have the collection kits validated for use.