U.S. health agencies fail to remove common coronavirus test

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Social media posts claim U.S. health officials are revoking the authorization of widely used coronavirus tests because they are inaccurate. It’s wrong; one U.S. agency said it had made no such announcement and that testing was the “gold standard” for diagnosing Covid-19, while another said a requested modification of the permission cited in some articles was not due to poor performance.

“After 180 million positive cases, the CDC announced its declaration to withdraw the use of the PCR test to detect Covid, due to its lack of detection to differentiate Covid from influenza”, indicates a July 25, 2021 Instagram post, in reference to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Screenshot of an Instagram post, taken on July 28, 2021

Another Instagram Post, liked about 14,600 times, shared a screenshot of a Tweeter saying, “NO LATEST NEWS: FDA confirms PCR tests are not accurate at testing for COVID.” It doesn’t matter whether the whole public health emergency (and therefore the use of powers) has been built on cases or that they can still be used until the end of the year. Fabricated crisis. Surprise! “

Screenshot of an Instagram post, taken on July 28, 2021

Similar allegations surfaced on Facebook here, here and here and in an online article here.

PCR tests are used by healthcare workers around the world to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and have been a regular target of misinformation during the pandemic.

The science behind the main methods of testing for the novel coronavirus (AFP / John Saeki)

Many tests for Covid-19 are approved, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking to stop just one of them.

The organization say it’s alright withdraw a request of Emergency use authorization (EUA) of a RT-PCR test it developed early in the pandemic, CDC spokeswoman Jade Fulce explained.

But the move was not due to performance issues. Instead, the demand for the CDC’s test has declined with the emergence of high-tech procedures, she said.

Many posts be inspired by the language of the CDC announcement of this falsely withdrawal Claim PCR tests cannot tell the difference between Covid-19 and the flu.

The announcement says the CDC “encourages laboratories to consider adopting a multiplexed method that can facilitate the detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses.”

But Fulce said the agency was referring to tests that can identify both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses, and that doesn’t mean past tests have confused the two.

The messages echo Covid-19 skeptics who pushed the false narrative that the CDC added flu cases and deaths to those of the coronavirus in order to make the pandemic appear deadlier.

Jim McKinney, spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told AFP on July 27 that PCR tests are considered the best way to test for Sars-CoV-2.

“The FDA has not issued any statement questioning the reliability PCR test results in generalal, “he said.

“To date, the FDA has authorized more than 300 tests and specimen collection kits to diagnose Covid-19, many of which are PCR tests. PCR tests are generally considered the ‘gold standard’ for the diagnosis of Covid-19, “McKinney added. .

Ana Santos Rutschman, an assistant professor at the Center for Health Law Studies at St. Louis University, said that USA are meant to be temporary.

“A revocation in itself is just a technical way to give the product a different status … the CDC approves a different type of test, but says nothing about PCR testing.” in general, said Rutschman.

Jennifer Piatt, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Center for Public Health Law and Policy, agrees.

“Nothing in the CDC’s statement indicates that its test confuses Covid-19 with influenza, or that PCR tests in general do. Arguments to the contrary distort the language of the CDC,” she said.

Instead, “the statement simply indicates the CDC’s support for tests that can detect both influenza and COVID-19 in a bid to save time and resources,” said Piatt, who is also a lawyer. principal with the Network for Public Health Law.

AFP Fact Check debunked other inaccurate PCR testing claims here.

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