AIM Laboratories, a locally owned and operated diagnostics lab that has performed more than 300,000 COVID-19 tests in the St. Louis region to date, announced an expanded testing program that addresses variants of the virus that are threatening the pandemic recovery efforts.
“We have made great progress in fighting this pandemic that has claimed more than 500,000 lives in our country, but now it is essential that we continue to be vigilant in our COVID-19 testing efforts,” said Sonny Naqvi, CEO of AIM Labs. “That means testing for the vast array of variants that are springing up.”
According to the CDC, there has been nearly 2,000 reported cases of COVID-19 variants across 45 states that include:
- The United Kingdom (UK) variant called B.1.1.7 that began with a large number of mutations in the fall of 2020.
- The South African variant called B.1.351 that emerged independently of B.1.1.7 and was originally detected in early October 2020. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021.
- The Brazilian variant called P.1 that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.
“It is very common for viruses like SARS-CoV-2 to undergo mutations over time,” said Dr. Vaka Reddy, PhD., VP of Molecular Diagnostics and Clinical Lab Director at AIM Labs. “We have deployed the most advanced PCR technology that detect these known variants and target them to counter their continued spread in the community.”
AIM Labs utilizes ThermoFisher’s TaqMan™ SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel capable of detecting up to five known COVID-19 mutations that are included in the most common variants, including: Del69/70, N501Y, P681H, E484K, K417N in the SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Reddy said that AIM Labs is also investing in new DNA sequencing technology that will be able to detect unknown variants as well.
Along with the expanded COVID-19 testing services, AIM Labs is bolstering its support of St. Louis area schools and businesses. Last month AIM Labs pledged 1,000 tests (approx. $100K) to organizations offering free test to the uninsured or underinsured and will now expanded that to 2,000 tests.
Sonny Naqvi and his wife, Sofi, who heads up operations for the company, have been passionate about fighting COVID-19 in the St. Louis Metro area. Their Bridgeton-based laboratory has provided hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests to nursing homes, schools, companies, healthcare providers and patients. Most of those tests have returned results within 48 hours, some within 24 hours.
“We see the person behind every test we do,” said Sofi, who carries her phone with her like a physician on call. “It’s important that we get results back quickly and accurately because they and their loved ones are waiting. Every second counts.”