A retro feel to Biden's plan for covering OTC virus testing
The Biden administration’s plan for health insurers to reimburse consumers for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests is recalling the model of a bygone era when the companies processed large volumes of claims from individuals — with paper receipts.
US allows 2 more over-the-counter COVID-19 home tests
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)WASHINGTON – U.S. health officials have authorized two more over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that can be used at home to get rapid results. The FDA said Abbott’s BinaxNow and Quidel’s QuickVue tests can now be sold without a prescription. Most other COVID-19 tests require a swab sample taken by a health worker at a testing location. AdThe agency authorized an over-the-counter COVID-19 test from an Australian company in December but it is still not widely available. The program will provide free home tests to as many as 160,000 people in two counties in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Plunging demand for COVID-19 tests may leave US exposed
After a year of struggling to boost testing, communities across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites or even trying to return supplies. “We just don’t have enough people who are immune to rule out another surge.”U.S. testing hit a peak on Jan. 15, when the country was averaging more than 2 million tests per day. “People just aren’t going to go out to testing sites.”AdBut testing remains important for tracking and containing the outbreak. That’s more than 25 times the country’s current rate of about 40 million tests reported per month. From a public health viewpoint, testing is effective if it helps to quickly find the infected, trace their contacts and isolate them to stop the spread.
Calls grow for US to rely on rapid tests to fight pandemic
It also became the benchmark for accuracy at the FDA, which has greenlighted more than 230 PCR tests but only about a dozen rapid tests. AdThe FDA said in a statement it supports “innovation in testing” and “has not hesitated” to make rapid tests available. It’s among these silent spreaders that Mina says rapid tests have the clear advantage over lab tests. But many lab specialists worry about vastly expanding the use of rapid tests, which are more prone to false results, and have never been used at the massive scale being proposed. AdOne of his first executive orders called for using the Defense Production Act to scale up supplies needed for rapid tests.
The Latest: LA County says medical center broke virus rules
The Supreme Court is telling California it cant enforce a ban on indoor church services because of the coronavirus pandemic. The celebration is on hold until next year as Rio struggles with a rise in coronavirus cases. ___OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of reported coronavirus cases in Oklahoma has surpassed 400,000. Health officials are urging football fans to forego Super Bowl gatherings with members outside of their own households. France has registered 3.5 million confirmed cases and more than 78,700 confirmed deaths.
A new COVID-19 challenge: Mutations rise along with cases
The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. MUTATIONS ON THE RISEIt's normal for viruses to acquire small changes or mutations in their genetic alphabet as they reproduce. On Tuesday, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said yet another new variant has been found in one-third of COVID-19 cases in that city and may have fueled its recent surge in cases. Health officials also worry that if the virus changes enough, people might get COVID-19 a second time. ___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
Will the US ever have a national COVID-19 testing strategy?
NEW YORK – As the coronavirus epidemic worsens, U.S. health experts hope Joe Biden's administration will put in place something Donald Trump's has not — a comprehensive national testing strategy. Such a strategy, they say, could systematically check more people for infections and spot surges before they take off. Our strategy has been no strategy,” said Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard University researcher focused on use of testing to track disease. Some experts say the lack of such a system is one reason for the current national explosion in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Amid complaints about shortages and delays, the federal government began sourcing and shipping key testing supplies to states, beginning with swabs.
Millions more virus rapid tests but are results reported?
But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted. Federal health officials say about half of the nation’s daily testing capacity now consists of rapid tests. Large hospitals and laboratories electronically feed their results to state health departments, but there is no standardized way to report the rapid tests that are often done elsewhere. And state officials have often been unable to track where these tests are being shipped and whether results are being reported. Even before Abbott's newest rapid tests hit the market last month, undercounting was a concern.
Rapid $5 coronavirus test doesn't need specialty equipment
This image provided by Abbott Laboratories in August 2020 shows the company's BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 nasal swab test. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, authorized BinaxNOW, the first rapid coronavirus test that doesnt need any special computer equipment to get results. (Abbott Laboratories via AP)WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the first rapid coronavirus test that doesnt need any special computer equipment to get results. Abbott's BinaxNOW is the fourth rapid test that detects COVID-19 antigens, proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself. "Its not a rapid test, its a laboratory-based test that will still be prone to the same massive delays as any other test," said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard University.