New York making its own coronavirus test after botched CDC testing kits

New York City and New York state are developing their own tests to detect the coronavirus amid issues with a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BuzzFeed News reported

Earlier this month, the CDC released a genetic test in the US for the virus, which was sent to approximately 100 state and city labs, in addition to overseas sites. However, the test’s results were proven unreliable and fewer than a dozen labs produced definite results, according to the report.

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Deputy Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis confirmed to the outlet that city and state public health labs found problems with the CDC test kit. But the Food and Drug Administration gave the labs permission to develop their own genetic test for the virus, a step that has not previously been taken since the virus outbreak began in China late last year. 

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The New York labs will also receive a new CDC test kit that is still under development first, BuzzFeed News reported.

“The only question is which will come on line first,” Daskalakis told the outlet.

He added that New York is also keeping hourly reports of pneumonia and flu arrivals in emergency rooms, and a sudden increase in those patients would trigger a response before test results were prepared.

“If we are starting to see a lot of pneumonia cases at a time when influenza is trending down, we would act very quickly to find out what is going on,” Daskalakis said, Buzzfeed News reported.

The CDC confirmed Wednesday that a new case of coronavirus in California could be the first known instance of the virus spreading among the general public. Officials confirmed that the person did not have a history of traveling to places where others are infected or direct exposure to another person with the virus.

The CDC initially declined to test the California patient for coronavirus last week because of the narrow testing criteria, waiting days to perform the test that later came back positive. 

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The initial CDC test was based on three “primer” sets of small DNA sequences that match the coronavirus, according to BuzzFeed News. Labs across the country found that the third primer in the test kit could give inaccurate readings.

Although the CDC gave labs permission to use the first two primers if they were found to be reliable, New York labs, among others, said those could also deliver varying results. 

Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers that 40 labs could not use an altered CDC test, but New York labs also discovered problems with the new test as well, according to BuzzFeed News. 

There are now more than 80,000 documented cases of coronavirus around the world and more than 2,800 deaths from the infection.