CDC quietly revises coronavirus guidance to downplay importance of testing for asymptomatic people

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield testifies earlier than the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.

Kevin Dietsch | Pool through Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not recommending testing for everybody who’s been uncovered to Covid-19, saying people who do not have signs “do not necessarily need a test.”

The company quietly revised its testing guidance for asymptomatic people Monday, advising people who’re susceptible to the virus to get examined if they’ve been inside 6 toes of an contaminated particular person for at the least 15 minutes. 

The company beforehand really helpful testing for anybody with a “recent known or suspected exposure” to the virus even when they didn’t have signs. The CDC’s earlier guidance cited “the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission” as a cause why people with out signs who have been uncovered to the virus be “quickly identified and tested.” Numerous research have proven that people who do not have signs can nonetheless carry and unfold the virus — even within the presymptomatic stage a couple of days earlier than signs seem or if they’re asymptomatic and by no means develop signs. 

“You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one,” the CDC’s web site now says of people with out signs who have been in shut contact with an contaminated individual for at the least 15 minutes. “A negative test does not mean you will not develop an infection from the close contact or contract an infection at a later time.”

The company, which directed CNBC to HHS for remark, additionally added new language referring to asymptomatic people as “healthy people,” language that is incessantly utilized in social media posts protesting the use of masks. 

“In areas where there are limited number of new cases, State or local public health officials may request to test a small number of asymptomatic ‘healthy people,’ particularly from vulnerable populations,” the brand new guidance reads.

The CDC’s up to date guidance nonetheless acknowledges that people can carry and unfold the virus, even when they do not have signs and really feel wholesome. In the CDC’s pandemic planning eventualities, the company says its “current best estimate” is that up to 50% of unfold of the virus happens earlier than sufferers start to expertise signs.

Some epidemiologists criticized the change in guidance as a result of of the position that asymptomatic people are suspected of taking part in in spreading the virus.

“This makes no sense. People without symptoms account for up to 50% of transmission,” tweeted Dr. Leana Wen, a public well being professor at George Washington University and former well being commissioner of Baltimore. “We need MORE testing, not less.”

Dr. Tom Frieden, the previous director of the CDC beneath President Barack Obama, stated on Twitter that the change is “probably indefensible” and was “likely imposed on CDC’s website.”

Will Humble, govt director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, referred to as the change “bizarre.”

“Testing contacts is a core part of contact tracing!” he stated on Twitter. 50% of transmission occurs earlier than signs happen & you make this coverage determination? ⁦⁦The CDC model is toast.”

The updated guidance also removed a line on the importance of testing and surveillance to the U.S. national response plan.

The guidance previously read: “Testing is a basic half of the United States SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance Plan, which makes use of a number of surveillance programs and epidemiology networks to monitor the development and impression of SARS-CoV-2 unfold within the United States.”

The guidance was updated “to mirror present proof and greatest public well being practices,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, who leads the Trump administration’s testing effort.

“The up to date Guidance locations an emphasis on testing people with symptomatic sickness, these with a major publicity or for susceptible populations, together with residents and workers in nursing properties or long run care services, important infrastructure staff, healthcare staff and first responders, and people people (who could also be asymptomatic) when prioritized by public well being officers,” he stated in an announcement. 

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