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Millions More Virus Rapid Tests, But Are Results Reported?

All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.

News18.com | October 18, 2020, 22:22 IST

After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results.

All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.

And the situation could get worse, experts say. The federal government is shipping more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centers and other new testing sites.

Oct 18, 2020 22:22 (IST)

West Bengal Records Highest Spike | A total of 3,983 new coronavirus cases and 64 deaths were reported in West Bengal in the last 24 hours according to lastest health report. 

Oct 18, 2020 21:53 (IST)

Himachal Pradesh Reports 170 Covid-19+ Cases | Himachal Pradesh reported 170 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases in the state to 18,967, including 16,040 recovered cases and 2,630 active cases. Death toll rose to 263.

Oct 18, 2020 21:10 (IST)

READ | China Extends Emergency Use of its Coronavirus Vaccines to Three More Cities

The cities of Yiwu, Ningbo and Shaoxing are targeting key groups with urgent need for vaccinations against COVID-19 following the city of Jiaxing, state-run Global Times quoted another daily, The Paper, as reporting on Saturday.

Oct 18, 2020 20:00 (IST)

Madhya Pradesh Covid-19 Tally Update | A total of 1,030 new Covid-19 cases and 20 deaths were reported in Madhya Pradesh today. The total number of cases in the state rose to 1,60,188 and the death toll reached 2,773. The tally includes 1,44,134 recovered cases and 13,281 active cases.

Oct 18, 2020 19:44 (IST)

7,012 New Coronavirus Cases in Karnataka | Latest health bulletin shows Karnataka reported 7,012 new coronavirus cases and 51 deaths today, taking total number of cases in the state to 7,65,586 and death toll to 10,478. The tally includes 1,09,264 active cases, 6,45,825 discharged cases.

Oct 18, 2020 19:28 (IST)

Tamil Nadu Reports 3,914 More Covid-19 Cases | Tamil Nadu reported 3,914 new coronavirus cases and 56 deaths today, taking the total number of cases to 6,87,400 and death toll to 10,642. The tally includes 6,37,637 recovered cases and 39,121 active cases.

Oct 18, 2020 18:48 (IST)

3,986 Covid-19 Cases in Andhra Pradesh | Andhra Pradesh reports 3,986 more coronavirus cases today taking total cases to 7,83,132. The tally includes 36,474 active cases and 7,40,229 recovered cases. The death toll stands at 6,429.

Oct 18, 2020 18:47 (IST)

Kerala Covid-19 Update | Kerala reported 7,631 new coronavirus cases. The state has 95,200 active cases and 2,45,399 recovered cases. 

Oct 18, 2020 18:35 (IST)

No New Cases in Mizoram | No new coronavirus cases were reported in Mizoram over the last 24 hours, while 3 patients recovered in the state. Total number of positive cases in the state stand at 2,253. The tally includes 105 active patients and 2,253 discharged cases. No death reported in the state till date.

Oct 18, 2020 18:32 (IST)

READ | Eye on Festive Season, Govt Panel Warns of 26 Lakh Cases a Month due to Laxity, Non-adherence to Norms

The government panel has also said that if norms are adhered to, there is a possibility of the pandemic being controlled by early next year.

Oct 18, 2020 18:17 (IST)

Bihar Records 1,152 New Covid-19 Cases | Health officials reported 1,152 new coronavirus cases in Bihar in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases in the state to 2,04,212. The tally includes 1,92,594 recovered cases, 10,621 active cases and 996 deaths.

Oct 18, 2020 17:55 (IST)

READ | Nine Months Into the Pandemic, Govt Admits Community Transmission, Says 'Limited to Some States & Districts'

The admission came at a time when several states, the latest being West Bengal, speaking about having entered the third stage of the pandemic, that is community transmission.

Oct 18, 2020 17:31 (IST)

WATCH | Jacinda Ardern Credits Covid-19 Handling For NZ Election Win, Says Will Form Govt in Three Weeks

Oct 18, 2020 17:12 (IST)

Delhi Reports 3,299 New Covid-19 Cases | A total of 3,299 new coronavirus cases and 28 deaths were reported in Delhi today, taking the total number of cases in the national capital to 3,31,017. The tally includes 3,01,716 recovered cases and 23,292 active cases. The death toll rose to 6,009.

Oct 18, 2020 16:56 (IST)

UPDATE | A case has been registered against Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla and 32 others in Bayana police station for holding Mahapanchayat in Rajasthan's Bharatpur yesterday in violation of Covid-19 protocols.

Oct 18, 2020 16:45 (IST)

READ | Kerala Paying Price for Laxity in Covid Norms during Onam, Other States Must Draw Lesson: Health Minister

The Health Minister also refuted China's claims that the origin of the novel coronavirus could have been any other place in the world than Wuhan. "There is no evidence to validate the claims that the outbreak occurred at multiple points globally," he said, adding that Wuhan remains recognised as the site where the first coronavirus case was reported.

Oct 18, 2020 16:31 (IST)

UPDATE | Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on said there is no evidence that can validate claims on global multiple focal points for the COVID-19 outbreak, amid China claiming that the coronavirus broke out simultaneously in several countries last year.

Oct 18, 2020 16:24 (IST)

READ | Pollution May Make Coronavirus More Infectious, Pose 'New Challenges' for Recovered Patients: Experts

According to doctors, respiratory illnesses like viral influenza increase with a spike in pollution levels as poor air quality leads to inflammation in the lungs making it more vulnerable for the virus to penetrate.

Oct 18, 2020 16:04 (IST)

India Witnessing Community Transmisssion: Health Ministry | In a first, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that India is witnessing community transmission, adding that "it is limited to some districts and states."

Oct 18, 2020 16:04 (IST)

India Witnessing Community Transmisssion: Health Ministry | In a first, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that India is witnessing community transmission, adding that "it is limited to some districts and states."

Oct 18, 2020 15:56 (IST)

Mumbai Metro Gives Sneak Peak Before Reopening Services | Mumbai Metro to resume operations from tomorrow after months of lockdown; preparations underway.

Oct 18, 2020 15:39 (IST)

WATCH | 70 Million Doses Of Covid-19 Vaccine Doses To Be Ready By December, Says SII Executive Director

Oct 18, 2020 15:29 (IST)

'Long Covid' Linked to Organ Impairment in Young People Without Pre-existing Conditions: Study | Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have assessed more than 200 people infected with the novel coronavirus and found that there was significant evidence of heart, lung, liver and pancreas impairment four months post-Covid-19 in young individuals without risk factors or pre-existing disease. According to the researchers, including Sandeep Kapur from Mayo Clinic Healthcare, the average age of the participants was 44, and they completed the assessments 105-160 days after initial symptoms. They said the prevalence of pre-existing conditions such as obesity and hypertension was low among the participants, and only 18 per cent of the individuals had been hospitalised with Covid-19.

Oct 18, 2020 15:16 (IST)

READ | Coronavirus Pandemic Has Peaked in India, Around 30% Population has Developed Antibodies, Claims Govt Panel

The panel used the real-time dataset to make forecasts on the transmission, to gauge effect of the lockdown, migrations and also project future scenarios based on the unlocking measures being followed…

Oct 18, 2020 14:28 (IST)

As tourism industry opens up in Goa, popular pubs have been seen flouting Covid-19 norms. From unregulated  parties to no social distancing being maintained, it has led to a massive fear that cases could increase in the coastal state. Most importantly, tourists seen without masks and no checks being done by the local district administration. 

Oct 18, 2020 14:14 (IST)

In Pics | Sabarimala Shrine Reopens Amid Rising Coronavirus Cases in Kerala

Around seven months after it was closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the doors of Sabarimala temple were open for devotees from October 16, albeit with certain restrictions.

Oct 18, 2020 13:46 (IST)

The Phase 3 trials of Covid-19 vaccine are being conducted for over thousands of volunteers, nearly about 30,000: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Oct 18, 2020 13:42 (IST)

Mumbai Monorail services resume, months after they were stopped in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

Oct 18, 2020 13:31 (IST)

At present in India, there are no clinical trials on a nasal spray vaccine for Covid-19. However, the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, is working on a vaccine for coronavirus and is expected to begin clinical trials by end of this year: Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Oct 18, 2020 13:25 (IST)

I have decided to keep my celebrations subdued. There is so much suffering across the world due to the pandemic. We must all let charity take precedence, donate with a large heart to the underprivileged. Find poor people in your neighbourhood. Buy their children new clothes, sweets and articles of need, you'll feel good. As we worship Maa Shakti in her nine avatars, I hope to see more empowered women and a society free of discrimination and atrocities against women: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, in his 'Sunday Samvaad'.

Millions More Virus Rapid Tests, But Are Results Reported?
Health care workers take information from people in line at a walk-up COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, in Miami Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“Schools certainly don’t have the capacity to report these tests,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “If it’s done at all it’s likely going to be paper-based, very slow and incomplete.”

Early in the outbreak, nearly all U.S. testing relied on genetic tests that could only be developed at high-tech laboratories. Even under the best circumstances, people had to wait about two to three days to get results. Experts pushed for more “point-of-care” rapid testing that could be done in doctors offices, clinics and other sites to quickly find people who are infected, get them into quarantine and stop the spread.

Beginning in the summer, cheaper, 15-minute tests — which detect viral proteins called antigens on a nasal swab — became available. The first versions still needed to be processed using portable readers. The millions of new tests from Abbott Laboratories now going out to states are even easier to use: they’re about the size of a credit card and can be developed with a few drops of chemical solution.

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.

In Minnesota, officials created a special team to try and get more testing data from nursing homes, schools and other newer testing sites, only to be deluged by faxes and paper files.

“It’s definitely a challenge because now we have to do many more things manually than we were with electronic reporting,” said Kristen Ehresmann, of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Even before Abbott’s newest rapid tests hit the market last month, undercounting was a concern.

Competitors Quidel and Becton Dickinson have together shipped well over 35 million of their own quick tests since June. But that massive influx of tests hasn’t showed up in national testing numbers, which have mostly ranged between 750,000 and 950,000 daily tests for months.

Besides tallying new cases, COVID-19 testing numbers are used to calculate a key metric on the outbreak: percentage of tests positive for COVID-19. The World Health Organization recommends countries test enough people to drive their percent of positives below 5%. And the U.S. has mostly been hovering around or below that rate since mid-September, a point that President Donald Trump and his top aides have touted to argue that the nation has turned the corner on the outbreak. The figure is down from a peak of 22% in April.

But some disease-tracking specialists are skeptical. Engel said his group’s members think they aren’t getting all the results.

“So it may be a false conclusion,” he said.

One of the challenges to an accurate count: States have wildly different approaches. Some states lump all types of tests together in one report, some don’t tabulate the quick antigen tests at all and others don’t publicize their system. Because antigen tests are more prone to false negatives and sometimes require retesting, most health experts say they should be recorded and analyzed separately. Currently only 10 states do that and post the results online, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The federal government is allocating the tests to states based on their population, rather than helping them develop a strategy based on the size and severity of their outbreaks.

“That’s just lazy” said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard University. “Most states won’t have the expertise to figure out how to use these most appropriately.”

Instead, Mina said the federal government should direct the limited supplies to key hot spots around the country, driving down infections in the hardest-hit communities. Keeping tighter control would also ensure test results are quickly reported.

Johns Hopkins University researcher Gigi Gronvall agrees health officials need to carefully consider where and when to deploy the tests. Eventually, methods for tracking the tests will catch up, she said.

“I think having the tools to determine if someone is infectious is a higher priority,” she said.

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