Washington state authorities have recalled an estimated 12,000 COVID-19 testing kits due to possible contamination.
The state’s Department of Health said in a recent news release that it was notified by parties at the University of Washington Medicine of a possible “quality control issue” in connection with a “small number” of vials of a special fluid used to keep specimens from COVID-19 nasal swabs intact during transport. Called viral transport media (VTM), the fluid in some of the vials had an unusual color.
State health leaders confirmed the quality control problem was only found in a small number of the tubes, noting that there is no believed health risk to people being tested for COVID-19 as the potentially contaminated fluid does not come into contact with patients.
“Though the quality control issue has only been observed in a small number of tubes of viral transport media, we adhere to the highest quality standards for COVID-19 testing in Washington state,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said. “We are working with our partners to have them discard the product and will work to replace them as quickly as we can.”
The recalled VTM also did not impact the COVID-19 test results, health officials said, adding that “out of an abundance of caution,” they were ordering a recall of both the fluid and the nasal collection swabs.
State jurisdictions that received the kits in question have been advised to contact the health department about getting replacement tubes and swabs.
Officials said that while current supplies “aren’t adequate” at the moment to make immediate replacements, a new shipment of swabs from a different vendor is expected to arrive this week.
It comes after President Donald Trump, at a White House briefing Sunday, addressed calls by state governors for more federal help to expand testing.
The president said he would be using the Defense Production Act with respect to one company to increase swab production for tests.
Officials and health experts say the country needs to dramatically scale its testing infrastructure if it is going to safely roll back restrictions and reopen businesses without risking a major spike in infections.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday morning that the nation is currently running about 1.5 million to 2 million tests per week. But, “we really need to get up to, at least, you know, maybe two times that, three times that.”
Trump said that, so far, 4.18 million people have been tested for COVID-19 in America and called on governors to work together to enhance response efforts.
“We’re encouraging them to share their successful strategies with other governors. Some of the governors are doing a better job than others. The robust capacity that we’ve brought online will empower governors to deploy sophisticated strategies so they can safely reopen their states,” Trump said.
The administration is engaged in a delicate balancing act between protecting people from the CCP virus and restarting economic activity so Americans have the means to keep a roof over their heads and get enough to eat.
Spurred by growing lockdown fatigue, more people took to the streets over the weekend calling for a faster end to the lockdowns.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus has spread aggressively across the world, with a Johns Hopkins tally on Monday showing the number of infections in the United States has hit 760,570, according to Johns Hopkins, with the number of virus-related deaths standing at 40,690.