ROCKY HILL, CT – The head of Connecticut’s state laboratory said the “faulty agent” included in the original coronavirus test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was removed from the testing protocol.
Following a tour of the facility Monday with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Dr. Jafar Razeq explained that the CDC told Connecticut and all the state health departments to remove the agent from the testing kit.
“It has no negative impact on the testing capabilities,” Razeq said.
He said the two cases in Connecticut that were tested over the weekend were negative and were done with the new kits.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that it was investigating a manufacturing defect.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement Sunday that “upon learning about the test issue from CDC … [the] FDA worked with CDC to determine that problems with certain test components were due to a manufacturing issue. We worked hand in hand with CDC to resolve the issues with manufacturing.”
Following his tour of the Connecticut state lab Monday, Adams said he’s confident Connecticut is ready to test for the virus.
To date, Connecticut has not had any positive cases but has tested at least four individuals. Two were tested in the state lab over the weekend and two were sent to the CDC in Atlanta.
Adams said he spent most of his Saturday at the White House with the task force where the top priority is getting the test kits out to people.
“It was the number one item on our agenda in terms of the task force meeting,” Adams said. “I’m encouraged that more states feel comfortable and are ready to test.”
Adams said as they test more it’s likely they are going to get more positive cases, “but that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the CDC lab in Atlanta “did have a contamination problem and there was some question about the test being overly expansive looking for other strains of viruses.”
He said the test in common use now seems to be reliable, “but we need to be vigilant.”
Axios was the first to report about the concerns over the test kits.
There’s currently no vaccine for the coronavirus.
Adams said he was concerned before the coronavirus about the “erosion of vaccine confidence,” and the lowering of vaccination rates across the country.
‘We know that states that have non-medical exemptions for vaccinations are at higher risk for more vaccine-preventable diseases occurring in their states,” Adams said. “Which not only has a health impact, but an impact on our economy. We almost lost our measles eradication status as a country last year.”
Adams said he would be shocked if coronavirus reached the level of flu deaths so far this year.
There have been 18,000 people in the United States who have died from influenza this year, according to the CDC. A total of 32 million people got the flu this year and 310,000 were hospitalized.
There have been two men, one who was 70 and one who was in his 50s, who have died from the novel coronavirus in Washington state’s King County.
There are currently at least 91 cases of the coronavirus illness in the U.S. – including 48 cases among people repatriated from China and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship – according to the CDC.
“We’ve done a good job of limiting the coronavirus entry into the United States,” Adams said. “There’s no doubt that has been successful.”
There are 40 countries that have reported coronavirus cases but “we cannot hermetically seal the United States,” Adams said.
He said of the 14 original coronavirus cases in the U.S., all 14 are recovering. He said if someone is healthy they will have a mild illness that is like a bad cold or a flu.
Adams, Indiana’s former public health commissioner, was scheduled to be in Connecticut this week for other events unrelated to the coronavirus.