US COVID-19 testing is 'problematic,' former FDA chief says

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, told CNBC Feb. 2 that the country's COVID-19 testing system is "discontinuous" and "problematic" and that he doesn't expect any large-scale improvements until fall. 

"You don't have an efficiently run system because no one really built this rationally," Dr. Gottlieb said. 

He said that the U.S. has reached a point where we can do "a tremendous amount of testing," and that on some days more than 2 million new tests are conducted. But, "We need to be able to do 3, 4 million tests a day and get back a result back within 24 hours or else ... it's useless. A PCR-based result that takes more than a day or two isn't useful," he said, according to CNBC

A big issue is that because of the way the system is currently organized, test samples aren't getting to labs that have the capacity to quickly run the tests and return the results to patients in a timely manner, Dr. Gottlieb told CNBC

Dr. Gottlieb said there will still be a need for COVID-19 testing in the fall, even though many Americans will likely be vaccinated like then. 

"We need to build this out for the fall when testing volumes are going to come up again, and we’re going to be pressed again," he told CNBC

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