Schumer calls for ramped-up policing of coronavirus and antibody testing kits sold online

Schumer calls for ramped-up policing of coronavirus and antibody testing kits sold online
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) called for ramped-up policing of coronavirus and antibody testing kits sold online on Sunday. 

The minority leader told reporters that he was “here to sound the alarm” and “urge the crackdown on” tests that are sold online and have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Schumer said he was sending a letter to the FDA requesting increased monitoring of these tests being sold online.

Schumer said the majority of the tests in question are antibody tests, which determine whether a person has developed the antibodies to fight off the virus, meaning they were likely infected. Some of the tests are also diagnosis tests, which are supposed to conclude whether a person currently has the coronavirus. 

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“But imagine if it doesn’t work and it’s an antibody test,” he said. “You get a false positive, and you think you have the antibodies. And you go out on the street, and you get COVID.”

“And if it’s a false negative, you don’t think you have the antibodies, and you do. And you stay home unnecessarily,” he added. “So there’s no excuse for not having all of the tests approved and authorized by the FDA.”

The senator said his letter requests the FDA to increase policing of the tests sold online, to publicize which tests have been approved so people know which are safe and to issue cease-and-desist orders with penalty fines to companies providing unapproved tests. 

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The FDA referred to Commissioner Stephen Hahn's comments from the press briefing Friday, when he said the administration has approved a combined 63 diagnostic and antibody tests.

"The president has asked us and under his leadership, to actually cut down as many barriers as we possibly could to get medical products into the medical community, and we have done that, of course recognizing the urgency of the situation," Hahn said.

"We are very much paying attention to the safety, and with respect to tests, validity and reliability of those tests," he added. 

Antibody testing could be key to reopening the economy by determining which individuals have already been infected by the virus and whose bodies are able to fight it. But it’s still unclear whether a person can become infected again.