COVID-19 testing supplies distributed by the federal government have failed quality checks and are arriving late, Washington state’s top health official said in a letter to a senior administration official, warning of problems as cases spike.
Several state lab directors and the director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories also told Reuters that supplies were short.
Widespread testing is one of the core requirements necessary for controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus, and delays in tests raise the likelihood of transmission.
“The nascent federal supply effort for COVID-19 testing has been beset by logistical problems that impede our pandemic response and undermine our shared goals,” Washington state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in his June 30 letter to U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir.
The supply chain problem “threatens to limit our overall testing capacity at a critical time in the pandemic response,” he said.
Two months ago, seeking to address problems in the national supply chain, the federal government started sending states weekly shipments of swabs and chemicals used to gather and preserve specimens for testing. Wiesman thanked Giroir for the help.
But he said that system is beset with problems, including swabs that have had to be re-sterilized and shipments delayed without temperature control.
Addressing the state’s concerns about poorly packaged swabs and chemicals specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services said that beginning in July it will provide states with individually wrapped sterile swabs.