A three-page federal review conducted by two lawyers at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that the first testing kits issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) failed as a result of “likely” contamination because scientists didn’t carefully check them. According to the review, there was pressure to get the tests out quickly and there were “lab practices that may have been insufficient to prevent the risk of contamination.” No blame was assigned to a specific scientist or official.
The problem with the test kits arose from the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The issue was reported on in mid-April stating that 24 of the 26 public health labs that tested the kits before using them on actual patients were receiving false positive results. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examined the kits and discovered that they failed due to substandard manufacturing practices and that the CDC breached their own protocols when making the kits.
Ultimately, the failure of the test kits from the CDC caused weeks of delay in rolling out widespread testing. This set the country back when it came to minimizing the risk to the American people. This review isn’t the final word on the matter though. The process and kits are being audited by the HHS Office of Inspector General and that is not going to be finished until sometime in 2021.
As some officials are trying to determine what happened in the early stages of the pandemic, others are trying to clarify that, despite what some people are proclaiming, we aren’t in a second wave yet. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, “When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave? We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.” Yes, there was an initial infection peak in April and then the number of new cases decreased due to stay-at-home orders. However, public health experts say that this isn’t a trough, it’s more of a plateau.
While the number of cases is decreasing in some parts of the country, they’re increasing in others. So, there’s no question that the virus is continuing to spread. It’s impacting various places with varying intensity at different times. A flu expert from the University of Michigan, Dr. Arnold Monto, stated, “What I would call this is continued transmission with flare-ups.” Most experts agree that in order to be considered a second wave, there would need to be a surge in new cases and so far, we aren’t seeing that. Instead, the number of cases is increasing steadily every day.
The concern is that the second wave will occur in the fall or winter because schools will most likely be reopened and the weather turns colder, which means people will be more likely to stay inside. Since there won’t be a vaccine by then and most Americans won’t have immunity, it could be very problematic. Scientists do point out that COVID-19 has not followed the same pattern as the flu, so it’s still unclear what exactly will happen.