Behind the COVID-19 Curve
A slow diagnostic response to the coronavirus outbreak put the USA on the back foot
Luke Turner | | Quick Read
Efforts to ramp up diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the USA have been hampered after a slow response to the outbreak. The original test kit distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contained a faulty reagent that, in many cases, reacted to the negative control, rendering results invalid (1). Hospitals and academic labs across the country were restricted from developing their own test kits until February 29.
Since then, testing has moved away from the CDC and state labs toward hospitals and commercial companies – and, as of March 14, labs using the CDC assay are no longer required to submit samples for confirmation. But where does that leave the USA? As of March 18, 37,824 tests had been conducted (2), leaving the country lagging behind others. Health officials hope that new drive-through test centers and quicker processing will help them hit testing targets.