With COVID-19 in Canada, there was a shortage of the chemicals needed to identify the virus so a Canadian came out of his one-month long retirement to help create that key part.

Dr. Theresa Tam shared the story of "unsung heroes" at the country's National Microbiology Laboratory who found a made in Canada solution to the global shortage.

One of those people is Allen Grolla, a former diagnostician who had worked to fight outbreaks for 18 years and went into retirement right before the pandemic hit but that didn't last long.

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Although it was a challenging time for everyone, I was more than happy to come back to the lab and contribute to the well being of Canadians.

Allen Grolla

Back in March, just one month into his retirement, Grolla got a call from the executive director of the National Microbiology Laboratory who asked him to come back and develop reagents for COVID-19 tests.

Reagents are chemicals that are needed to extract genetic material from samples so that the virus can be identified.

"Although it was a challenging time for everyone, I was more than happy to come back to the lab and contribute to the well being of Canadians," Grolla said in a blog posted by the federal government.

He and his team were successful in creating a reagent that accurately detects the virus and the first batch was sent to public health labs in April.

Now that the job is done, Grolla is back to enjoying his retirement.

On November 25, Canada reported 5,022 new cases of COVID-19 which brings the national total closer to 350,000.

 
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