States Begin Detailing Specific Use of 150 Million BinaxNOW COVID-19 Tests Distributed by Trump Administration
HHS News Release
The federal government said four weeks ago it would distribute roughly 150 million Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests nationwide to assist states' reopening efforts. Of that total, 100 million are regularly being shipped on a weekly basis to governors, while the remaining 50 million tests procured by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are being shipped directly to congregate care settings, including nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, home health, hospice, Indian Health Service, and historically Black colleges and universities. In their initial preliminary feedback, 32 states and Washington, D.C., said the BinaxNOW allocations are largely being sent to local health departments, K-12 schools, higher education institutes, nursing homes, hospitals, and correctional facilities. Alaska said it is sending tests to oil drilling sites, Mississippi to veterans' homes, and Nevada to tribal health clinics. Colorado is prioritizing local public health agencies to test homeless populations. Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, said: "Combining personal responsibility with smart, targeted testing is a proven formula to prevent outbreaks—but we cannot 'test our way' out of this pandemic. Public vigilance in adhering to precautionary measures is required—especially as we clearly see the onset of mitigation fatigue."
Verily's COVID Testing Program Halted in San Francisco and Oakland
Kaiser Health News
Real-World Utility of HCV Core Antigen as an Alternative to HCV RNA Testing
An estimated 70 million people in 2016 were infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), a leading cause of chronic liver disease globally, according to a study in Journal of Viral Hepatitis. The gold standard algorithm for diagnosis of HCV infection requires serologic testing for antibodies and further confirmation of viral replication by HCV RNA testing. HCV core antigen testing can serve as an alternative to RNA testing, potentially helping to reduce diagnostic costs. The West of Scotland Specialist Virology Centre (WSSVC) provides HCV RNA testing to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. Researchers identified serum samples that were tested at WSSVC from June 2011, when HCV core antigen (HCV Ag) testing was implemented, to December 2017. Serum samples testing positive for HCV antibodies (HCV Ab positive) followed by reflex HCV Ag testing during the study period were identified. From this group, samples that also underwent on-request PCR testing were selected. Researchers compared sample characteristics of those undergoing on-request PCR testing and those that did not. The findings indicate that approximately 20% of HCV-infected individuals could be missed. As a result, HCV Ag testing has the potential to be cost-effective, but it must be used with care, in particular in areas where HCV genotype 3 is the most prevalent genotype, the researchers asserted. They recommended that HCV PCR be performed on all HCV Ab-positive and Ag-negative samples, as per the UK Standards for Microbiological Investigation of hepatitis C.