US health authority shipped faulty coronavirus test kits across country

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began shipping 200 test kids nationwide on February 5 in order to speed up the diagnosis of US cases of COVID-19, which currently number 13 (AFP Photo/Lizabeth MENZIES)

Washington (AFP) - A number of test kits sent out by US health authorities to labs across the country to diagnose the deadly novel coronavirus are faulty, a senior official said Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began shipping 200 test kids nationwide on February 5 to speed up the diagnosis of US cases of COVID-19, which currently number 13.

But the labs reported that while performing a verification procedure they realized the kits were returning inconclusive results, meaning neither positive nor negative, said senior CDC official Nancy Messonnier.

"We think that the issue at the stage, can be explained by one reagent that isn't performing as it should, consistently," she said, referring to one the substances used in the kit. "And that's why we are remanufacturing that reagent."

For now, the testing of all patient specimens will continue to be carried out at the CDC's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

The US is shipping the test kit to 36 countries that have placed orders, and each kit can be used approximately 700 to 800 times.