Just one week ago, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) starting shipping out test kits to select qualified US and international laboratories. The kits are designed for use with an existing testing instrument that is commonly used to test for seasonal influenza. The test uses a technology that can provide results in four hours from initial sample processing to result. Each test kit can test approximately 700 to 800 patient specimens. The kits are supposed to enable states to conduct their own testing and have results faster than they would by shipping samples to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
However, the CDC released a statement today that the testing kits have flaws and don’t work properly. Officials didn’t say if all the kits were faulty. This means that the tests should not be used and any testing samples must be sent to the CDC, which will cause several days of delay as far as getting results. The problem seems to come from one ingredient involved in the test, so the CDC stated that they would make a new supply of that ingredient to send to all of the laboratories. However, they didn’t say when the ingredient would be shipped.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the infectious diseases division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “The test is the only way you can definitely know you have the infection. You absolutely need it for case counting. It allows you to know who’s infected. You can treat those people, if a treatment is available, and you can isolate them.” Currently, the CDC recommends testing if you have symptoms, like fever, cough or shortness of breath, or if you’ve traveled to China within the past 14 days. They also recommend getting tested if you’ve had close contact with someone who is infected.
This statement would lead you to believe that all of the individuals that are being evacuated out of Wuhan would be tested. However, this isn’t happening. Since there is an increasing number of people coming back home. Officials have a new protocol to only test individuals who have symptoms during the 14-day quarantine period. This has caused a significant amount of concern among the 600 people currently on military bases waiting to be cleared to go home. Officials say the tests are less accurate before people show symptoms, which means that a negative result early in the process could be misleading. According the evacuees, officials haven’t required them to wear masks either.