MoA – As Virus Spreads Over The Planet Governments Are Slow To React
The U.S. is likely to already have a significant number of cases but a lack of testing capacity has made any realistic estimate impossible.
Chinese scientists had published the genome sequence of the virus on January 12 and, based on it, developed test kits within a few days. The U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention also developed a test kit but had problems with its first version and its wider distribution. More than a month later it is still not ready for the foreseeable need:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t yet ready to detect whether the coronavirus is spreading across the country.
Just 12 of more than 100 public health labs in the U.S. are currently able to diagnose the coronavirus because of problems with a test developed by the CDC, potentially slowing the response if the virus starts taking hold here. The faulty test has also delayed a plan to widely screen people with symptoms of respiratory illness who have tested negative for influenza to detect whether the coronavirus may be stealthily spreading.
Only six states — California, Nebraska, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, and Idaho — are now testing for the virus, the Association of Public Health Laboratories told POLITICO.
Under current rules, each positive test must be confirmed by a second round of testing at the CDC. [Director Robert Redfield] told lawmakers that the agency can now screen 350-500 samples per day.
“I understand very much the FDA is focused on quality control, but there’s also a need to have a system that can respond to their needs,” [Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,] said. “China tested 320,000 people in Guangdong over a three-week period. This is the scale we need to be thinking on.”