The impact of testing failures and delays on the explosive growth of COVID-19 infections is unclear. Experts say the lack of testing in many of the nation’s public health labs hampered early detection.
The United States “desperately” needs more tests to screen for the new coronavirus, a public health expert told Congress on Friday.
Problems arose after early February when the CDC shipped a test that produced faulty results. As of Feb. 25, only 12 state or local labs out of more than 100 nationwide could do their own testing.
“Testing capacity is not currently adequate, and we need more,” said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and an epidemiologist. “We need this as soon as we can have it.”
On March 6, Vice President Pence said that anyone who “wants a test can get a test,” and HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that there “is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been.” While Joe Biden claimed that no tests available.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn provided the clearest answer on March 7, when he said that CDC had shipped enough kits to state and local public health labs to test 75,000 people.
The CDC updated its clinical criteria web page to make testing more broadly available, stating that clinicians “should use their judgment” in deciding who should be tested — and strongly encouraging testing for other respiratory infections, such as influenza.
Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc. told NBC News in a statement Friday afternoon that it had delivered enough kits to test more than 700,000 individuals using the CDC protocol.
Image Credit: Daniel Mayer / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)