Problems with a coronavirus test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have delayed the Trump administration’s efforts to expand screening to state and local public health labs, Politico reported Thursday.
The revelation comes more than two weeks after the FDA granted permission to distribute the CDC test nationwide.
Citing the Association of Public Health Laboratories, Politico reported just three of the more than 100 public health labs across the country have verified the CDC test for use, Politico reported.
The delay has also affected CDC’s plan to screen samples collected by its national flu-surveillance network for the coronavirus, according to Peter Kyriacopoulos, APHL’s senior director of public policy. CDC aims to use public health labs in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle for screening.
What is at stake is the government’s ability to detect scattered cases before they snowball into larger outbreaks, according to former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
“By that point, it may be harder to contain spread, and we’ll be forced to rely on mitigation tactics to just limit the impact of the virus,” he told Politico.
Concerns about money also threaten the rollout of state and local coronavirus testing. Over the weekend, more than 20 Senate Democrats called for additional cash after Trump administration officials told senators the Department of Health and Human Services would soon exhaust existing funding for its coronavirus response.
The diagnostic test can cost up to $250 to run, Politico reported.
“This is a national-level response, so we would hope the federal government would have an interest in supporting a national-level response,” according to Kyriacopoulos. “Labs are much more interested in beginning to get the work done. But figuring out how to pay for it is not far behind.”