Dozens, many nursing home residents, receive false-positive COVID-19 results from public lab in Connecticut

The results were from "a widely-used laboratory testing platform."

July 20, 2020, 5:20 PM

Connecticut health officials issued a warning on Monday, saying a state-run laboratory had delivered false-positive COVID-19 test results to dozens of patients, including many nursing home residents.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health said it uncovered a flaw in a testing system at the state's Public Health Laboratory, which caused 90 people to receive false positive results between June 15 and July 17, according to a statement released Monday.

Health officials said the results were from "a widely-used laboratory testing platform" that the state laboratory started using on June 15. The exact cause of the false-positive results is still under investigation, officials said.

The patients, many of whom were nursing home residents, were notified through their respective healthcare facilities. The flaw has also been reported to the manufacturer and the federal Food and Drug Administration, the department said.

“We have notified the healthcare facilities for everyone who received a false positive test result from our state laboratory,” Acting Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said on Monday. “Accurate and timely testing for the novel coronavirus is one of the pillars supporting effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Health workers dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) handle a coronavirus test at a drive-thru testing station in Stamford, Connecticut.
John Moore/Getty Images

She also thanked her team at the state lab for their "quick action" and said adjustments had already been made to ensure the accuracy of future results from the testing platform.

The department said it would still rely on the platform for tests, including those for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Going forward, all positive results will be further analyzed by multiple laboratory scientists, and if indicated, retested using another method, the department said.

The news comes as states across the country struggle to keep up with testing demands amid a resurgence of infections. Last week, Rhode Island officials revealed that a private laboratory had delivered false-positive COVID-19 results to 113 patients. Those tests were taken between July 9 and July 14.

Over 14.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 140,541 deaths.

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