CDC isn't using the most accurate Zika test available, whistle-blower says

The CDC has been using a Zika test that isn't very accurate, even though a superior test is available, according to a CDC lab chief who first raised concerns about the test in April.

That employee, Robert Lanciotti, PhD, had served as the chief of the CDC's Diagnostics and Reference Laboratory Activity, Arbovirus Diseases Branch, in Fort Collins, Colo., since 2000. However, he was demoted in May and then reinstated in July after filing a whistle-blower retaliation claim with the Office of Special Counsel, according to The Washington Post.

In the spring, Dr. Lanciotti began an internal debate in the CDC regarding the accuracy of the agency's Emergency Operations Center's recommendation that state and public health labs use the Trioplex diagnostic Zika test. Dr. Lanciotti argued that widespread use of the Trioplex test would result in 39 percent of Zika infections going undetected.

Dr. Lanciotti came to this conclusion in April after conducting an analysis of the results of a comparative study performed in his laboratory, as well as data compiled by the Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco, an independent research institution outside of the CDC. Dr. Lanciotti provided the agency's EOC with information suggesting the Singleplex Zika test was more accurate than the Trioplex.

The EOC continued to back the Trioplex test, however, and an internal investigation launched by the CDC did not substantiate Dr. Lacniotti's claims of Trioplex's inferiority.

Carolyn N. Lerner, the head of the OSC, found the CDC's investigation reasonable, according to her letter to President Barack Obama on the matter. However, Ms. Lerner added that "as the agency contemplates additional improvements or changes to the Zika testing protocol, I encourage CDC to review Dr. Lanciotti's comments, respond to each of his concerns, and utilize his expertise as the agency works to ensure it is implementing the most effective testing methods in response to this public health emergency."

Dr. Lanciotti disagreed with the agency's findings and continues to use the Singleplex Zika test at the Fort Collins laboratory, which is the most experienced laboratory in the country regarding Zika testing, according to Ms. Lerner's letter.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Sanofi receives $43.2M to accelerate Zika vaccine development 
4 suspected cases of Zika-related microcephaly in Thailand 
Puerto Rico reports second death linked Zika-related paralysis

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars