Trump health official explodes in Nevada after rapid test use in nursing homes in state

ADM Brett P. of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Jiroir testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.

Kevin Dietush | Pool via Reuters

A top official in the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday urged Nevada to reverse its decision to suspend the use of two rapid coronovirus tests in nursing homes, saying there was no “scientific reason” to justify its action is.

Nevada health officials have ordered nursing facilities in the state, prompting the use of the two tests to be suspended immediately after authorities said false positives were distributed by authorities, according to tests distributed by Quid and Becton, Dickinson and Co. Built.

Nevada officials said that according to an instruction issued last week, 23 out of 39 positive antigen test results from both QUID and BD were subsequently found to be negative by PCR. According to the document this is an error rate of about 60%.

The Assistant Secretary at HHS, Adam Brett Girir, said on Friday that false positive testing is the “reality” of the ecosystem and should be expected. Describing the Nevada action as “unfair”, Giroir said the federal agency sent a letter to the state, threatening to take “swift action and appropriate steps” if the decision was reversed.

It is a “goofy, uninvited and unlawful” decision, Giroir said on a call with reporters. “Nevada’s unilateral withholding of these tests is a violation of HHS’s PREP Act guidance. Under federal law, Nevada cannot restrict or effectively prohibit such testing.”

He said Nevada’s action “reflects a basic lack of knowledge” about the testing and interpretation of results.

“Not just the Kovid test, but the clinical trial in general,” he continued. “Science is in favor of administration and administration is in favor of science.”

Giroir would not say what action the federal government was prepared to take, only stating that the government has “a number of enforcement mechanisms” at its discretion. He urged nursing homes to continue using the tests, saying “there is no scientific reason not to comply with this.”

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request on Girobeer’s remarks.

Trials for Quid and BD can provide results in 15 minutes.

The Trump administration requires nursing homes to routinely test residents and staff in an effort to more quickly detect new Covid-19 cases. Coronoviruses have hit nursing homes in the US particularly hard, and the administration has conducted thousands of tests nationwide.

Rapid tests have been seen as essential tools to help schools and businesses reopen, but the accuracy of tests remains a concern

The FDA said it received 302 “adverse event” reports, as of September 30, according to Reuters, including multiple accounts of false negatives.