PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University is set to begin processing hundreds of daily tests on human samples for COVID-19.

The new testing ability has been designated "WSU One Health Diagnostics," and builds on the work of its Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which regularly handles high volumes of tests for animal pathogens.

WSU plans to run as many as 2,000 COVID-19 tests per day for eastern Washington.

“WSU is proud to be part of the effort to increase the testing capacity for the state of Washington, and in particular for the eastern part of the state,” said Guy Palmer, professor of pathology and infectious diseases. “Testing is critical to curbing the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. It lets the individual know if they need to self-isolate, and as a community, it helps us judge if current public health measures are adequate.”

Diagnostic samples collected at multiple state sites will be processed by WSU. Range Health, the WSU-affiliated nonprofit that runs a mobile medical unit serving rural areas, will also start collecting samples from people in the region’s smaller towns and communities.

WSU will collaborate with the state Department of Health and Spokane-based Incyte Diagnostics, which will handle pre- and post-test analysis. 

“WSU and Incyte Diagnostics were able to develop a partnership that allows for COVID testing to be done rapidly and locally,” said Patty Sipes, CEO of Incyte Diagnostics. “This partnership accelerates testing capacity and allows us to participate in a rapid response model necessary to support the communities we serve.” 

Antibody tests will also be processed at WSU.

This will be the first time that the university will conduct tests on human samples. The WSU lab has conducted some COVID-19 tests for companion animals, but with no positive tests to date.

Palmer clarified the human tests will be handled and processed separately from the animal pathogens testing in different physical areas with different protocols in place.

WSU was certified to handle human sample testing through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment, while the  the testing proficiency has been evaluated by the state's health department.