Atlanta, GA—The CDC has announced to pharmacists and others providing COVID-19 testing that, after the end of this year, the request for emergency-use authorization of the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel will be dropped.
The CDC had requested EUA from the FDA for the assay, which was first introduced in February 2020 for detection of SARS-CoV-2 only.
Public health officials say they are providing advance notice so one of the many FDA-authorized alternatives can be selected.
To prepare for the change, the CDC recommends that clinical laboratories and testing sites that have been using the CDC 2019-nCoV RT-PCR assay select and begin their transition to another FDA-authorized COVID-19 test.
Especially encouraged is adoption of a multiplexed method that can facilitate detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses. “Such assays can facilitate continued testing for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2 and can save both time and resources as we head into influenza season,” the CDC writes.
The very basic information was met with a storm of misinformation on social media.
In a report produced in partnership with Politifact, Kaiser Health News notes that the posts on both Facebook and Instagram falsely claimed that the CDC is ending use of the test because it cannot differentiate between the covid virus and flu viruses.
“CDC has just announced they will revoke the emergency use authorization of the RT-PCR tests first introduced in 2/20,” reads a July 25th post, which goes on to quote from the agency’s lab directive: “CDC encourages laboratories to consider adoption of a multiplexed method that can facilitate detection and differentiation of SARS CoV-2 and influenza viruses.” It continues: “Translation: They’ve been adding flu cases to Covid cases when using that test.”
The article by Victoria Knight also quotes Mike Huckabee, a former Fox News host who was also a Republican presidential candidate and governor of Arkansas, as claiming on Facebook that the CDC test cannot tell the difference between coronaviruses and flu viruses.
An inaccurate July 24th Instagram post put it another way: “The FDA announced today that the CDC PCR test has failed its full review. Emergency Use Authorization has been revoked.”
Facebook flagged the posts for dispensing false news and misinformation on its news feed.
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