The error was identified in the testing platform manufactured by a company known as Thermo Fisher Scientific, which provides Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) tests to many different commercial laboratories across the U.S. In Connecticut alone, this flawed test has resulted in at least 90 people, mostly living in nursing homes and assisted care facilities, testing positive for the virus when they are actually healthy and normal.
It was employees at Connecticut's official state laboratory that first discovered the flaw and brought it to the public's attention. Their hope is that the problem can be quickly rectified, allowing clinics all over the country that have been using the faulty test to switch to something else, as well as to account for and discard any erroneous data that came from its use.
Dr. Deidre S. Gifford, Connecticut's acting public health commissioner, has indicated that her agency is reaching out to labs all across her state to determine how many of them have been using the flawed test. Josh Geballe, Governor Ned Lamont's chief operating officer, is also reaching out to all clinicians who have tested people with the flawed test to find out who was tested, where they live, and what results were gathered.
"In a state like ours, which is using large-scale, intense testing to keep down transmission, we are going to have false positives," admitted Dr. Albert Ko, a Yale University epidemiologist and co-chair of Gov. Lamont's reopening advisory committee, about the situation.
"And that's going to happen even in the best of tests because none of them are 100 percent positive," he added, noting that the scientists who uncovered the flaw deserve "a shout-out" for the contributions in bringing much-needed scrutiny to the testing process.
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), the affected patients it has already identified were all tested with the faulty tests between June 15 and July 17. Of the 144 people that supposedly tested positive, 90 of them turned out to be false positives, which have since been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a written statement, DPH indicated that it does not yet know the precise reason why the tests are creating false positives, but that it is currently being investigated. It was merely identified during an analysis of "background information" on previously collected specimens that something was amiss, and that "these specimens shouldn't have been reported as positive," to quote DPH scientists Dr. Jafar Razeq.
It has also been revealed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been collecting and reporting gobs of false positives from many other states before it was revealed that the agency was "mistakenly" perpetuating fake science.
In Connecticut, there are now more than 48,000 reported positive cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), though it remains unclear how many of these might be false positives. Even so, this figure reflects a 0.6 positivity rate in the state, which is among the lowest in the country.
Connecticut has also implemented new quarantine rules for out-of-state travelers who visit the area, requiring them to fill out online travel health forms and stay isolated for at least 14 days. Those who are caught violating the order could face a fine of $1,000.
More related news stories about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) are available at Pandemic.news.
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