Tests being used by US officials for suspected cases of coronavirus are not 100% reliable, officials said Friday. One expert said: "If a person has HIV and I try their blood, I can tell you 100% whether they have HIV. That's not even near the case with this." The US dramatically stepped up prevention measures Friday, barring foreigners who have recently traveled to China from entering the country. US citizens will be allowed back, but will have to be quarantined for up to 14 days. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Tests being used on US patients suspected of carrying the coronavirus ravaging China don't always work, and throw up false results, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Robert Redfield, the CDC's director, pointed out problems with the test at a briefing on the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, where some 200 people have died from it. Speaking Friday at the White House, he said: "We've seen people who had a detectable virus, then they didn't have a detectable virus, and then three days later they had a detectable virus." The problem further complicates the CDC's job of isolating and controlling the virus, which has so far been confirmed in seven separate people in the United States.
In at least one case, a patient who had not been to China caught the infection, confirming that it is capable of spreading on its own within the US. At the same briefing, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also expressed concern about the tests, which he said are worse than those for other diseases. "We don't know the accuracy of this test. People who came in were negative, then all of a sudden they were positive," he said. "If a person has HIV and I try their blood, I can tell you 100% whether they have HIV. That's not even near the case with this." As reported previously by Business Insider's Hilary Brueck, the coronavirus is difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms can look a lot like the flu or a common cold, and common tests like checking somebody's temperature are not definitive. Instead, doctors need to tests samples of mucus and saliva in a lab. This can then be analyzed to see if it contains genetic material that matches the virus. The CDC says it currently has no way to test for the virus before somebody starts displaying symptoms, meaning that there is no way to identify people during the virus' incubation period, which is up to 14 days. On Friday, the US government moved to bar non-US citizens who have been to China in the past 14 days from entering the US, in the hope of containing the spread of the disease. US citizens will be allowed back into the country, but quarantined for as long as 14 days. Aria Bendix contributed reporting for this article.
Read more: The only way to identify 2019-nCoV properly is by studying its viral genome sequence The US will ban foreigners who have been to China within the past 14 days, and will quarantine some returning Americans A coronavirus case has been confirmed in the San Francisco Bay Area near Silicon Valley — a man who recently returned from Wuhan and Shanghai Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How to find water when you're stuck in the desert
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The US government has completed fewer than 6,000 coronavirus tests as more states report new cases and deaths
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested fewer than 6,000 potential coronavirus cases...The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested fewer than 6,000 potential coronavirus cases so far. The figure came from FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Saturday, who last week promised there would be 1 million test kits available by the end of the week. The US was unable to meet that goal, though Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday the nation will produce some 1.2 million kits by next week. The US has struggled with its coronavirus response, in part due to an issue with CDC-issued test kits that ended up requiring states to send the CDC all cases for testing. Officials expect the number of tests completed to rise substantially over the next week. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The United States government has conducted 5,861 tests for the novel coronavirus as of Friday at 6 p.m., US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Saturday at an off-camera press briefing, CNN reported. The report comes amid a rise in US cases as the virus continues to spread across the country. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in his state after announcing 21 new cases on Saturday, joining a handful of other states that have declared public emergencies as a result of people testing positive for COVID-19. There have been at least 19 deaths in the US from the virus that has killed nearly 3,500 globally so far. Most fatalities have occurred in China. As CNN reported, the number does not mean 5,861 people have been tested for the virus, as those who are tested for typically have two swabs taken and tested: one nose swab and one throat swab. The number also does not account for tests at private labs. Saturday marked the first time the US government released official numbers on coronavirus tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducts coronavirus testing, has faced backlash over its handling of US cases. While other countries affected by outbreaks of the virus, which is believed to have originated in China at the end of last year, have tested millions of patients for potential coronavirus, the US has tested just thousands, according to a report from MIT Technology Review. Part of the issue, the report said, is faulty COVID-19 testing kits issued to states by the CDC in early February. The kits were found to have "faulty negative controls," meaning the results of some test kits were inaccurate, and states had to continue sending test samples to the CDC for testing. FDA policy prohibited states and private entities from developing their own test kits, meaning they only had access to the faulty FDA kits. The agency lifted that regulation on February 29, allowing states and commercial labs to create their own coronavirus testing kits. As Business Insider previously reported, Vice President Mike Pence — the Trump-appointed head of the US coronavirus task force — admitted that the country was not able to meet up with the demand for the test kits. The FDA commissioner had promised March 2 that the US would have 1 million test kits available by the end of the week, though Pence said the country failed to meet such a promise. "We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward," the vice president said Thursday, telling the BBC that the new goal would be met next week and had been increased to 1.2 million testing kits. The CDC on March 4 broadened its criteria for testing, allowing more individuals exhibiting symptoms of the disease to be tested. Read more: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declares a state of emergency and confirms 76 cases of coronavirus in the state I plan to continue flying even as coronavirus spreads globally. Here's how I intend to avoid all human contact in airports using technology. People are bidding more than $200 on 'fashion masks' on StockX as coronavirus cases grow in the US The number of coronavirus cases outside China could jump tenfold every 19 days without 'strong intervention,' a study says Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The reason some men go bald, according to a dermatologist
South Korea has tested 140,000 people for the coronavirus. That could explain why its death rate is just 0.6% — far lower than in China or the US.
South Korea has tested more than 140,000 people for the new coronavirus and confirmed more than...South Korea has tested more than 140,000 people for the new coronavirus and confirmed more than 6,000 cases. Its fatality rate is around 0.6%. This suggests that, as many health experts have predicted, the virus' fatality rate seems to decrease as more cases are reported. That's because more widespread testing leads more mild cases to be included in the count. The US, by contrast, has tested around 1,500 people. The country has 221 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, suggesting a death rate of 5%. The US' testing capacity has been limited. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The US and South Korea announced their first cases of the coronavirus on the same day: January 20. More than six weeks later, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested around 1,500 people for the virus. South Korea, meanwhile, has tested about 140,000. The nation is capable of conducting as many as 10,000 tests per day and has built drive-thru testing clinics that can detect coronavirus cases in just 10 minutes. Officials say the clinics can reduce testing time by a third. This quick response has allowed South Korea to detect more than 6,000 coronavirus patients, around 35 of whom have died. That means the country's fatality rate — the number of deaths out of the total number of infections — is around 0.6%. The World Health Organization estimated on Tuesday that the global fatality rate for the coronavirus is around 3.4%. Some health experts predict that this rate will decrease as the number of cases rises. South Korea offers solid evidence for that prediction so far. Widespread testing could mean a lower death rate because the majority of coronavirus cases — around 80% — are considered mild. But the cases reported first are often those with the most severe symptoms, since those people go to the hospital. Milder cases, on the other hand, could go uncounted or get reported later on. "If indeed we discover that there are far more cases that are actually being reported, and that one of the primary reasons for this is that we're just not detecting asymptomatic or mild or moderately symptomatic cases that don't end up seeking healthcare, then our estimates for the case fatality rate will likely decrease," Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Business Insider. Mild cases, she added, "may not make it onto the radar of public health agencies." In the US, people without severe symptoms haven't been tested because of limited availability, which may explain why the nation's death rate so far is high: more than 5%. That's higher than the death rate in China — nearly 4% — where the outbreak started. Many mild cases could go undetected People under age 40 have just a 0.2% risk of dying from the virus, early research has shown. The majority of severe cases are among elderly patients or those with preexisting health problems. "Most people who get infected won't even know they have it," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on Wednesday. A day later, he added: "The facts do not merit the level of anxiety that we are seeing." But until Wednesday, the CDC had only tested people who had recent exposure to a confirmed patient, had travelled to a country with an outbreak, or required hospitalization. This has made it difficult for doctors and health officials to test or diagnose many patients with mild cases, which likely explains the US' high death rate. "There's another whole cohort that is either asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a February 6 briefing. "We're going to see a diminution in the overall death rate." 'You don't have the capacity to test everybody' South Korea saw a spike in coronavirus cases after a 61-year-old woman transmitted the virus to other members of a fringe religious group, the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus. On February 23, South Korean president Moon Jae-in warned that the country faced "a grave turning point" in its efforts to contain the outbreak. Since then, it has implemented widespread testing. In the US, the CDC opted to develop its own test, one that could identify multiple viruses, ProPublica reported. But the tests turned out to be faulty: A problem with one ingredient caused more than half of state labs to receive inconclusive results. In response, the CDC said it would replace the ingredient and manufacture new tests. "What happened in the US is the CDC created and sent out a test to all 50 states and then said, 'Wait, hold up, don't use it,'" Matthew McCarthy, a hospitalist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, told CNBC last week. By the end of February, only three of the nation's more than 100 public-health labs had verified the CDC test for use. In the meantime, labs had to send samples to the CDC in Atlanta to confirm a case. That causes a delay of up to 48 hours between testing and confirmation. "At first, CDC was the only place where testing could be performed," Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine, told Business Insider. "For a country of our size, when you only have a single site doing that, it limits the resources available for testing." McCarthy told CNBC he had to call the Department of Health and "plead to test people" at his hospital in New York. The US has reported around 220 cases of the virus so far, though the CDC has only confirmed 148. The confirmed cases include 46 passengers who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and three repatriated evacuees from Wuhan, China. But researchers at the Seattle Flu Study estimated that the number of infections in Washington state alone may have already reached 570. The US' official death count as of Thursday is 12. On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began allowing academic hospital labs to develop and use their own coronavirus tests. The New York health department is now partnering with local hospitals to expand testing capacity for the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. The goal is to conduct 1,000 test per day, he added — but the current capacity is still limited. "We're at a couple of hundred tests per day, so you prioritize who can be tested," Cuomo said. "You don't have the capacity to test everybody 'just in case.'"Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 myths about the coronavirus, including why masks won't help
The CDC has broadened its coronavirus testing standards so that more Americans showing symptoms can get lab tests
The CDC broadened its coronavirus testing criteria so that more people with symptoms qualify for a...The CDC broadened its coronavirus testing criteria so that more people with symptoms qualify for a test. The testing standards previously required that a patient be hospitalized, have been exposed to a confirmed patient, or have a travel history in an area with an outbreak. As the number of "community spread" cases grows, however, the agency is scrambling to make tests more widely available. For the latest case total, death toll, and travel information, see Business Insider's live updates here. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The CDC has broadened its criteria for sick patients who qualify for coronavirus testing. The new standards, updated on Wednesday, allow more people who have respiratory illness symptoms like cough or fever to get tested. Previously, the CDC standards only tested people who had recent exposure to a confirmed patient, had travelled to a country with an outbreak, or required hospitalization. Those are all still risk factors, but the CDC now says "clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested." The agency still encourages healthcare providers to consider the state of the coronavirus outbreak in their area when making decisions about tests and to test for other illnesses like flu as well. Many health experts had criticized the CDC's previous limitations on testing. "Coronavirus has been circulating in the United States for weeks. We didn't detect it because we weren't testing properly," Matthew McCarthy, a hospitalist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, tweeted on Sunday. "There may have been cryptic transmission in Washington State since January. If I sound alarmed, it's because I am." One man in New York City, who had symptoms and tested negative for 20 common viruses, said he was denied testing last week because his condition wasn't severe enough to keep him in the hospital. He quarantined himself in his apartment just in case. The new standards allow more people like him to get a COVID-19 test if their doctors request it. Experts have criticized limited testing: 'We are in a crisis here' The new standards come a week after the CDC reported "community spread" in California, Oregon, and Washington — cases have cropped up that authorities can't connect to a high-risk country or another confirmed patient. The CDC had tested only about 470 people in the US for COVID-19 as of Sunday, according to the agency's official count. The CDC has since removed those testing numbers from its website. Alex Azar, the US secretary of health and human services, told ABC on Sunday that 3,600 Americans had been tested. South Korea, by contrast, has implemented free coronavirus-testing drive-thrus and tested more than 109,000 people. "Other countries are testing much more broadly than we are," William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, previously told Business Insider. "We are trotting along while they're racing along." Because of flawed tests, inadequate funding, and limited testing capacity, widespread testing wasn't possible in the US in recent weeks. But Azar told ABC on Sunday that "we now have 75,000 tests available." Other officials have said testing is likely to become even more widely available in the coming days. "The estimates we're getting from industry right now — by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed," Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said at a White House press briefing on Monday. Distributing those tests is its own task, however. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Friday that the CDC hopes "to have every state and local health department online doing their own testing" by the end of this week. Some experts say the US government should have taken those steps weeks ago. "It is well within the realm of possibility that there are 100,000 people infected with this right now in the United States," Yale professor Howard Forman, a radiologist and expert in healthcare management, told Business Insider. "Healthcare providers may be being exposed, other patients may be being exposed, and until you can give confidence to people about those answers, we are in a crisis here." Aria Bendix, Aylin Woodward, and Jessica Snouwaert contributed reporting. Read more: Delays and errors have put the US far behind other countries in testing and treating coronavirus patients: 'We are trotting along while they're racing' 17 mistakes by public health officials and ordinary people that helped spread the coronavirus around the world US medical workers will need 3.5 billion face masks if the coronavirus reaches pandemic status. Right now, the country only has 1% of that number. Here's what business travelers need to know about changing or canceling travel plans as the coronavirus spreads to every continent except Antarctica Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 myths about the coronavirus, including why masks won't help