A top official from the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday urged Nevada to reverse its decision to suspend the use of two rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes, saying there is no “scientific reason” to justify its action.
Nevada health officials have ordered nursing facilities in the state to immediately suspend the use of two tests, manufactured by companies Quidel and Becton, Dickinson and Co., after the officials said the tests repeatedly delivered false positives.
Nevada officials said 23 out of 39 positive antigen test results from both Quidel and BD were later found by PCR to be negative, according to a directive issued last week. That is an error rate of about 60%, according to the document.
Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at HHS, said Friday that false positives are a “reality” of the testing ecosystem and are to be expected. Calling the Nevada action “unjustified,” Giroir said the federal agency has sent a letter to the state threatening to take “swift action and appropriate steps” if the decision is not reversed.
This is an “unwise, uninformed and unlawful” decision, Giroir said on a call with reporters. “Nevada’s letter unilaterally prohibiting these tests is in violation of HHS’s PREP Act guidance. Under federal law, Nevada may not prohibit or effectively prohibit such testing.”
He said Nevada’s action “reflects a basic lack of knowledge” about testing and interpreting results.
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