As experts hustled to create diagnostic testing kits for the novel coronavirus, something went awry. At least some of the testing kits that were sent across the U.S. and to dozens of other countries aren’t working properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced during a news conference today (Feb. 12).
Last week, the CDC had begun to ship about 200 testing kits to labs across the U.S. and 200 more to over 30 different countries so that more facilities could conduct testing for the new coronavirus. Each kit could test about 700 to 800 samples, the CDC announced last week.
The reason was “to try to bring the testing closer to patients,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in today’s news conference. These kits could potentially avoid the delays that happen when labs have to send their samples to the CDC for testing, she said.
But as part of normal procedure, state officials were doing quality control testing on the kits and several of them identified “inconclusive” lab results, she said.
The CDC is working closely with the states to correct the issues in the testing kits, Messonnier said. “During a response like this we know things may not always go as smoothly as we like.”
These testing kits have nothing to do with the U.S. patient who was under quarantine after returning from Wuhan and was recently misidentified as not being infected with the coronavirus. In that case, the sample the patient gave never ran through the diagnostic test, Messonnier said. However, it did run through a second test and within 24 hours of the “mishap” the patient was found to be infected with the coronavirus.
“The mishap was unfortunate but we have corrected this from happening again in the future by adding additional quality control,” Messonnier added. That patient is one of 13 currently known to be infected with the new coronavirus in the U.S.