Health experts are sounding the alarm about new testing guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued earlier this week.
The CDC overhauled its guidelines and said that people who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection from the novel coronavirus do not need testing. That includes asymptomatic people who have also had exposure to the virus, according to The New York Times.
The new guidelines say:
If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms:
You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one.
If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with someone known to have a COVID-19 infection:
You do not need a test.
The list of people who do not necessarily need a test is far-reaching, including people who have been in high transmission areas.
According to CNN, the CDC website said previously: “Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection must be quickly identified and tested.”
The CDC even noted in its pandemic planning scenarios that 40 percent of infections are asymptomatic and 50 percent of virus transmissions take place before symptoms are detected, according to CNN.
“This is potentially dangerous,” said Dr Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician in Palo Alto, California, to The New York Times. She added that narrowing the testing criteria to only people with obvious COVID-19 symptoms means “you’re not looking for a lot of people who are potential spreaders of disease. I feel like this is going to make things worse.”
“I’m concerned that these recommendations suggest someone who has had substantial exposure to a person with COVID-19 now doesn’t need to get tested,” said Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University who was previously Baltimore’s health commissioner, to CNN. “This is key to contact tracing, especially given that up to 50% of all transmission is due to people who do not have symptoms. One wonders why these guidelines were changed — is it to justify continued deficit of testing?”
“I think it’s bizarre,” said Daniel Larremore, a mathematician and infectious diseases modeller at the University of Colorado Boulder, to The New York Times. “Any move right now to reduce levels of testing by changing guidelines is a step in the wrong direction.”
Written by- Jordan Davidson.