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Many states aren’t reporting rapid COVID-19 test results

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Many states aren’t reporting speedy COVID-19 take a look at outcomes

Over 20 states aren’t together with outcomes from a sort of speedy COVID-19 take a look at of their general case numbers, in response to a survey by Kaiser Well being Information (KHN). The federal authorities is sending tens of millions of these kinds of exams throughout the nation in an effort to maintain up with the pandemic. If states don’t launch the outcomes from these exams by way of their public well being departments, it creates a blind spot within the general knowledge.

The exams, referred to as antigen exams, work by detecting a small protein on the floor of the coronavirus. They have an inclination work a lot quicker than the exams that search for the virus itself, referred to as PCR exams, though they are often much less correct.

In keeping with the KHN survey, 21 states and the District of Columbia don’t report all of their antigen take a look at outcomes. Fifteen states and DC don’t rely constructive antigen take a look at outcomes as confirmed instances, and practically half of the 48 states that responded to the survey stated that their antigen take a look at outcomes are in all probability underreported.

Firstly of the pandemic, the vast majority of testing executed in the US was PCR testing. Then, the Meals and Drug Administration began authorizing antigen exams in Might, and over the previous few months, others have began to enter the market.

Nonetheless, it took till August for the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention to say {that a} affected person with a constructive antigen take a look at ought to be thought-about a possible COVID-19 case, even with out checking for signs. Even now, the company’s pointers say that PCR exams are “confirmatory” proof of the virus, and antigen exams (as a result of they’re much less correct) are solely “presumptive” proof.

Antigen exams are interesting as a result of they are often run exterior of a lab, and might be provided in medical doctors places of work and even in some faculties. However that widespread distribution of exams may also make it exhausting for officers to report the outcomes to a public well being company. One Virginia nursing residence director informed KHN that, if she began to make use of antigen exams, she’d need to hand-deliver outcomes to well being officers on items of paper. Some Indiana antigen take a look at outcomes are despatched to well being officers by fax.

Regardless of the info challenges, antigen exams have gotten extensively utilized in key areas. The Division of Well being and Human Companies has despatched tens of millions of antigen exams to nursing houses, which have been devastated by COVID-19, and it plans to ship lots of of tens of millions extra. The exams have additionally been fashionable with schools and universities, a lot of that are battling out-of-control outbreaks. Failing to trace the outcomes from these exams may make it seem to be instances had been secure dropping in an space, even when there was a spike on a school campus.

“The absence of data is a really harmful factor,” Janet Hamilton, govt director of the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, informed KHN. “We might be blind to the pandemic. It will likely be taking place round us and we can have no knowledge.”

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