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Nevada Halts Use of Rapid Coronavirus Tests in Nursing Homes, Citing Inaccuracies

Kristen Cardillo, BD’s vice president of global communication, said the company was aware of the situation in Nevada and was “conducting thorough investigations.” She added that “based on the information in the directive and the total tests performed, we believe the rate of reported false positives is well within what we would expect for the BD Veritor System.”

Representatives for the Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.

Concerns have also been raised about the ability of antigen tests to accurately pinpoint infections, especially if administered during a period when a person harbors low levels of the coronavirus. BD’s test is advertised as having a false negative rate of 16 percent. Quidel’s is just above 3 percent. The directive from Nevada’s department of health did not report whether the negative antigen test results from nursing homes — there were nearly 3,700 such results — had been confirmed by P.C.R.

In a call with LeadingAge members on Monday, Adm. Brett Giroir, who has been leading the nation’s testing efforts, said antigen tests were “clearly a lifesaving option,” and for many facilities the best test available, given the delays, expenses and shortages that had plagued P.C.R. tests.

“It is perfectly acceptable for congregate care, particularly nursing homes, to use an antigen test, even if they are, quote, off-label,” Dr. Giroir said in the interview. “Just because they don’t have an authorization doesn’t mean they’re not good for it.”

In response to questions about false positives, Dr. Giroir reminded LeadingAge members that in places where the coronavirus is scarce, false positives should be expected to outnumber true positives and do not necessarily invalidate the usefulness of a test. “That’s a function of the way life is,” Dr. Giroir said.

The halt to antigen testing in Nevada’s nursing homes comes just days after health experts criticized the White House, which is now in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, for a misguided overreliance on rapid testing. For months, officials used two products made by Abbott Laboratories, the ID NOW and the BinaxNOW, to test people without symptoms — another off-label use — while eschewing masks and physical distancing. In September, the White House also began distributing millions of BinaxNOW tests to communities across the country, including nursing homes around the country.

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‘It’s a Slaughter’; Trump Halts COVID Relief Talks; Mask Up Between Bites in Calif.

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William Foege, MD, the former CDC director under Presidents Carter and Reagan, suggested in a private letter to the agency’s current leader, Robert Redfield, MD, that he orchestrate his own firing by revealing the CDC’s failings and the meddling from the White House. “It’s a slaughter and not just a political dispute,” he wrote. (USA Today)

As of 8:00 a.m. ET Wednesday, the estimated U.S. COVID-19 toll reached 7,501,869 cases and 210,918 deaths — up 42,767 and 722, respectively, since the same time a day ago.

President Trump ordered his legislative team to halt negotiations with Congress on a coronavirus relief bill until after the election, but later tweeted that a total of $160 billion should be approved for airline relief and for paycheck protection. (The Hill)

Rick Bright, the administration’s vaccine-expert-turned-whistleblower, resigned from his job at NIH — a job he had been demoted to after being removed from his position as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. (STAT)

The FDA released its revised guidance for emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines — guidance that would likely guarantee a vaccine wouldn’t be authorized until after Election Day. Stay tuned to MedPage Today for in-depth coverage of this issue.

Efficacy data from one or two COVID-19 vaccine candidates are expected in the next month or two, according to Moncef Slaoui, PhD, the chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s project to speed up vaccine development. (Reuters)

In a small trial of patients with mild cases, the antidepressant fluvoxamine reduced the likelihood of clinical deterioration compared with placebo, the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund announced.

Wondering how to ask a stranger to put on their mask? Be discreet, experts say. (AP)

And speaking of masks, going out to eat in a restaurant? Don’t forget to wear your mask between bites, say California officials. (CBS News)

Presidential adviser Stephen Miller and three other White House officials tested positive for COVID-19, while the top U.S. general and several senior Pentagon officials are quarantining after being exposed to a Coast Guard admiral who tested positive for the coronavirus. (New York Times, CNN)

Facebook removed a post from President Trump suggesting that influenza is more lethal than COVID-19, saying it broke the site’s rules regarding misinformation. For comparison, COVID-19 in the U.S. has now killed more people than the last five flu seasons combined. (CNN)

State officials are investigating Trump’s fundraiser last week at his Bedminster, N.J. country club to see whether it violated guidelines on large gatherings. (NBC News)

As if a bobblehead and donuts weren’t enough, now NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, has his own action figure. (The Hill)

A Frontline/AP investigation published in The Washington Post details the breakdown in the U.S. supply chain for personal protective equipment to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

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