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The CDC's Early Coronavirus Tests Reportedly Couldn't Distinguish Between COVID-19 And Water

JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the United States, a crucial factor in curbing the spread of the virus is expanding access to testing kits that can accurately diagnose it.

An accurate measure of COVID-19 diagnoses is key to ascertaining the response necessary to soften the pandemic.


President Donald Trump's administration has yet to adequately supply testing kits, with early reports indicating that the President deliberately limited testing opportunities in order to keep the number of documented cases low, in hopes of preserving financial markets whose success is critical to his reelection.

Another factor in the lack of available testing kits lies with a bungled rollout by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The tests, produced in February, resulted in numerous false positives.

Stunningly, some of them erroneously detected COVID-19 in standard laboratory water. Those tests had already been distributed to public health labs, forcing the CDC to recall them.

In an email explaining the issue, a CDC official said:

"It is unclear why quality control did not detect this issue before the kits were sent out to states."

The outbreak of COVID-19 has upended daily life in the United States and around the world, resulting in lockdowns and the shuttering of public places like schools, churches, and businesses.

People on Reddit were incensed at the ineptitude of Trump's CDC.

"This cannot be reality. This is some s**tty sitcom writer's attempt at a light beer joke. We live in a simulation."
-Easilycrazyhat
"When you've legalized bribery of your politicians and handed out get-out-of-jail-free cards to all your corporate executives, we all know this is the result. We just don't know the details yet."
-Chasjo
"What the hell? Underfunded or not, something like this should not have slipped through the cracks."
"They should have tested the CDC coronavirus tests by putting distilled water in them and if they tested positive, they should have known that something was not right and the coronavirus test they had was flawed to understate what I would call it."
"This is not due to underfunding of the government, this is due to basic lack of laboratory standards and basic laboratory procedures that are done in private laboratories all the time!Better thing to do would have been to use the WHO approved and tested methodology for these tests."
-Lerianis001
"All that time spent golfing and dismantling an epidemic response team could have been spent not golfing and assembling an epidemic response team."
-NormalHumanCreature
"At a Congressional hearing, didn't a CDC official claim that Korea's test kits were bad and that America would develop the best? That conceited attitude is concerning. I mean look how that turned out."
-
usopsong

The anger spilled over to Twitter as well.



Thanks to the undersupply of these crucial tests, experts expect the number of confirmed cases will only grow higher, with the virus spreading even faster due to asymptomatic carriers.